From: "Stuart, Ralph" <Ralph.Stuart**At_Symbol_Here**KEENE.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Face masks and solvents
Date: Fri, 26 Jun 2020 13:37:59 +0000
Reply-To: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**Princeton.EDU>
Message-ID: 37F0E0D5-C0D5-48A5-97A5-6A792507C3FD**At_Symbol_Here**

> We have received several questions from labs about the risk of solvent vapors being ‰??trapped‰?? in cloth face masks.

Personally, I am more concerned about masks becoming contaminated by a splash of a solvent or other chemical than the masks impacting fugitive vapors. A spill onto a mask could create a longer exposure to the chemical than a maskless situation, particularly if the wearer is unaware of the splash.

One reason this scenario occurs to me is an experience I had at another school when a Teaching Assistant in a teaching biolab called me because she had spilled a gallon of Coomassie Blue onto her pants. She wanted me to clean up the spill because she was busy working with the students. When I arrived 30 minutes later, she was still wearing the contaminated pants and her skin was turning red from the continued exposure to the acetic acid / alcohol mixture. She only took the pants off after I provided her with tyvek coveralls to wear. She insisted on staying in the classroom until the class was over.

And when I was a lab tech working with inorganic acids, a line of holes developed in my pants at bench height; this was not an uncommon experience in our group.

The point is that cloth face masks are more likely to retain liquids than vapors in a problematic way.

- Ralph

Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
Environmental Safety Manager
Keene State College
603 358-2859


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