Why Face Masks Don’t Work

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 9 months ago

Ben Swann does a great job with outlining the data in this video.

What he doesn’t really do is explain the why.  All of this data is consistent with what I’ve said before.  The virus is approximately 80 nm in diameter.  In the simple little analysis that follows, I’m going to graciously assume that N95 masks are as effective as a nuclear grade HEPA filter.  That’s not true, not even nearly.  But this explains why not only N95 masks don’t work to filter viruses, but not even HEPA filters will.

Most of the HEPA filters available for industrial use are nuclear grade HEPA filters, which remove particles to 0.3 µm in size (more efficient HEPA filters are available but for our purposes only in use for manned space flight).  This means that a SARS-CoV-2 virus is 80E-9 / 0.3E-6 = 0.27 the minimum size necessary for even the most expensive nuclear grade HEPA filters to remove it from an air stream.

It’s no more complicated than that.  Oh, one can assume that the virus is bound within a droplet, and I can respond with the engineering of moisture behavior and reentrainment in the air stream, but that’s wasteful of effort.  You will never be able to demonstrate that moisture remains captured on filter media (charcoal filters are another story, but even there, moisture becomes reentrained in the air stream after some period of time).

You may as well try to catch mosquitoes with a chain link fence.  The masks aren’t helping you.


  1. On July 19, 2020 at 8:40 pm, Heywood said:

    The masks are working exactly as they are supposed to. Virus control? Nope. They are keeping people scared, and frightened people are much easier to manipulate and control.

  2. On July 19, 2020 at 10:50 pm, penses said:

    Face diapers. The more civilized the human race the more childlike it’s reactions to control mechanisms.

  3. On July 19, 2020 at 11:02 pm, Dan said:

    Do face masks work? Depends on what you believe they are supposed to accomplish.
    What a basic face mask does is to DIMINISH the amount of expelled droplets a person
    puts into the air when breathing, talking, sneezing or coughing. To stop 100% of virus particles would require a person to wear a highly specialized respirator. Not practical.
    But you aren’t wearing the mask to PROTECT YOURSELF. You are wearing the mask to PROTECT EVERYONE ELSE. A virus can’t fly. It has NO METHOD of moving itself about.
    It relies upon the droplets of moisture we expel to move it into the atmosphere and to some other location. Masks don’t stop ALL of this moisture but they stop a lot of it. Thus while they don’t stop ALL virus particles they DO stop A LOT OF THEM. And THAT is the point. If a person expels 20,000 virus particles when they sneeze and someone nearby inhales half of that they now have 10K items their immune system must deal with. If person A is wearing a mask when they sneeze that mask can stop 95% of the virus particles from becoming airborne. That means that the person nearby might only breath in 500 virus particles. A LOT fewer for their immune system to have to cope with. And that can mean the difference between becoming ill or not, between living and dying or not.

    Masks are NOT a guarnateed solution. They are just ONE method among many in SLOWING and DIMINISHING the spread of the virus. Too many people simply CANNOT or WILL NOT grasp this fundamental reality. Masks are NOT a perfect solution. But they DO HELP DIMINISH the spread of respiratory illnesses.

  4. On July 19, 2020 at 11:05 pm, Herschel Smith said:


    Nothing … Not … one … thing … you said, is demonstrated by science. Not a single thing. There is no study, no analysis, and no set of calc files that shows what you said to be true.

    You made every single bit of that up.

  5. On July 19, 2020 at 11:17 pm, Polimetis said:

    The minimum number of particle needed for infection is…one
    Masks don’t work

  6. On July 20, 2020 at 12:29 am, skybill said:

    Hi Herschel,
    What you say hit the nail right friggin’ on the head!! And… your last sentence about the “Skeeter’s” …. and the “sheep” still don’t get it….
    they’re just waitin’ for the “KOOLADE!!!!!”
    Keep up the good work buddy!! I’m standin’ by for your next post…
    meanwhile, back at the ranch.. I have posted an old sayin’ of yours that I really like a lot… and the more that things are gettin outa’ hand i start eye’in it very closely!! .. that is…….
    “There aren’t too many human interaction problems
    that can’t be fixed with a .45 ACP 230 grain fat boy!!!”

    Audentes, Fortuna, Ivat…..!!!!!!,

    PS first read your sayin’ over at Mike’s Place.. the guy from Sipsey Street….
    PPS…. I really miss him.

  7. On July 20, 2020 at 5:48 am, IndispensableDestiny said:

    You know nothing of how HEPA and N95 masks capture aerosols and particles, yet you post this hot take. It is more complicated than this, but you can find simple pictures explaining it. Hint: they do a better job removing 80 nm aerosols than 300 nm.

  8. On July 20, 2020 at 6:56 am, Heywood said:

    @IndispensibleDestiny. So, if you are the expert, please explain how they work. I fit test N95’s for over 500 people and have been doing it for 15 years. Please, specifically, point out what is wrong and give us the correct information (cited sources please). I want the controlled studies that show a non trained individual with a mask that has not been fitted gets any benefits and has no complications from wearing said mask for 8-12 hours per day. What? You can’t. So just another mouth breathing libtard flame thrower. Got it.

  9. On July 20, 2020 at 7:09 am, Nosmo said:

    I use a face mask to prevent being harassed by brainless Wokies for not wearing a mask.

    So far, it’s 100% successful at filtering out Leftist attacks.

    Caught a few minutes of some drag racing championship yesterday on the tube while eating lunch; I’m running out of expletives to describe this mask business. Everyone visible was wearing some sort of face covering, which has now become advertising space (are condom manufacturers missing out on this?) A media person interviewed drivers, and both were wearing face rags (they sure aren’t masks, except visually) while standing 8 feet apart outdoors and at least 100 feet away from everyone else.

    Political correctness at its finest.

  10. On July 20, 2020 at 7:46 am, penses said:

    “Do face masks work?” Yes

    “Depends on what you believe they are supposed to accomplish.” Enslavement of the human race based on dead white male logic.

    If you believe masks work at preventing the spread of a virus you are sure they should be worn. You are in favor of it based on what you think is good or right not on the facts.

    If you know a fact, a piece of information, or an answer, you have it correctly in your mind. You know about a subject, you have studied it or taken an interest in it, and understand part or all of it. Before the fakeflu skilled medical professionals knew that masks did not work based on decades of careful and thorough scientific experiments and tests.

    The facts thoroughly refute Trumps panel of epidemiologists organized dissemination of false information and fake facts responsible for the mass hysteria that caused the collapse of the economy with unnecessary shutdowns resulting in the permanent closing of over 50,000 small businesses and 40 million unemployed. A worldwide event run by the elite 1%, the goal being the enslavement of the human race.

    Don’t watch sports or attend events. Corporate sponsers hate my guts. Ditto. I’ll keep my money. I confess I will miss the booing of Bubba Watsdis but there will be videos.

    Cut the cable. Read a book. Watch old John Wayne movies. Go fishin’. Learn a language.

  11. On July 20, 2020 at 8:21 am, Foot in the Forest said:

    I have been a commercial hvac installer for 30 plus years. Jobs to include Stratcom in Omaha, the 460th space wing at Buckley afb and under tons of other hospitals and there OR”s. I tried to explain about fit tests on masks and particle size. I tried to explain about return air path in buildings and the laughable rules on social distancing and still the fools go on and on about WELLTHEY HAVE TO HELP SOMEWHAT AND THEY CERTAINLY DONT HURT. I wonder if it hurts to be programmed so well that critical thinking skills are dead. You really can’t fix stupid. The state of Colorado has instituted mandatory face masks in public buildings along all the corporate stores, grocery and such, I have made a “mask” out of a pair of my girl friends old panty hose.

  12. On July 20, 2020 at 8:57 am, Herschel Smith said:


    Great comment. I’m keeping this one in reserve, and I eventually intend to pull a number of pictures and references and write a fuller post on this. You want more? I’ll give you more. I can be as wonkish as anyone, I just try to keep it simple enough to keep reader attention for about 2 minutes.

  13. On July 20, 2020 at 9:03 am, Herschel Smith said:

    @Foot in the Forest,

    You’re probably being modest. STRATCOM (at least for part of it) will have more than just commercial equipment/design installed. You’ve probably worked on redundant filter trains with HEPAs and charcoal beds, maybe done some flow balancing, testing, other TAB and startup work.

    You and I have eaten some of the same dirt and pounded some of the same ground.

  14. On July 20, 2020 at 9:44 am, Ned said:

    If you know someone who vapes, have them exhale a vape hit through these various masks for a good visual. I have to use N-95 masks at work on days we do demolition. These masks – even the one with valves – always fog up my glasses when I’m working hard, summer or winter. Seems one’s breath seeks the easiest way out. The people who wear masks don’t don and doff them properly, fondle them incessantly, then handle produce, touch keypads, etc. People who wear them are spreading bacteria and viruses – not preventing their release. Just watch anyone for 5 minutes and see how many times they touch their face with a mask on.

    As for the people who complain about my not wearing a mask – they’re always overweight. So I just answer that if I’m in charge of protecting their health, they’re going on a diet.

  15. On July 20, 2020 at 10:50 am, Herschel Smith said:

    Comment left at WRSA to IndispensableDestiny:

    Yea I saw your comment on my site. It’s easy to trash something without discussing details.

    So here’s something to begin the discussion. Riddle me this. What is the mean dioctyl phthalate particle size, and why is it used to test HEPA filters?

    To start your studies in air filtration engineering, begin here.


    Go get your PE license. Then get back to me in a couple of years.

  16. On July 20, 2020 at 10:52 am, Fr. John+ said:

    “So I just answer that if I’m in charge of protecting their health, they’re going on a diet.”

    Fair’s fair! But when you’ve got Hay and wood brains with comments like this,
    “I fit test N95’s for over 500 people and have been doing it for 15 years. Please, specifically, point out what is wrong and give us the correct information (cited sources please). ”

    I’m glad to offer up what I saved about this BURQUA OF SUBMISSION MINDSET.


    Copied from a friend’s post. This is the truth.
    My apologies to the people who think masks are making a difference. Sorry folks: I am OSHA 10 and 30 certified. I know some of you are too. I don’t really know WHY OSHA hasn’t come forward and stopped the nonsense BUT I wanna cover 3 things
    • N95 masks and masks with exhale ports
    • surgical masks
    • filter or cloth masks
    Upon further inspection, OSHA says some masks are okay and not okay in certain situations.
    If you’re working with fumes and aerosol chemicals and you give your employees the wrong masks and they get sick, you can be sued.

    * N95 masks: are designed for CONTAMINATED environments. That means when you exhale through N95 the design is that you are exhaling into contamination. The exhale from N95 masks are vented to breath straight out without filtration. They don’t filter the air on the way out. They don’t need to.
    Conclusion: if you’re in Stewart’s and the guy with Covid has N95 mask, his Covid unfiltered breath is exhaled into Stewart’s (because it was designed for already contaminated environments, it’s not filtering air on the way out)

    * Surgical Mask: these masks were designed and approved for STERILE environments. The amount of particles and contaminants in the outside and indoor environments where people are CLOG these masks very, very quickly. The moisture from your breath combined with the clogged mask will render it “useless” IF you come in contact with Covid, your mask traps it; you become a walking virus dispenser. Every time you put your mask on, you are breathing the germs from EVERYWHERE you went. They should be changed or thrown out every “20-30 minutes in a non-sterile environment.”

    * Cloth masks: By now, hopefully you all know CLOTH masks do not filter anything. You mean the American flag one my aunt made? Yes. The one with sunflowers that looks so cute? Yes. The bandanna, the cut up t-shirt, the scarf ALL of them offer NO FILTERING whatsoever. As you exhale, you are ridding your lungs of contaminants and carbon dioxide. Cloth masks trap this carbon dioxide the best. It actually is a risk to health. The moisture caught in these masks can become mildew ridden over night. Dry coughing, enhanced allergies, sore throat are all symptoms of a micro-mold in your mask.

    Ultimate Answer:
    -N95 blows the virus into the air from a contaminated person.
    -The surgical mask is not designed for the outside world and will not filter the virus upon inhaling through it. Its filtration works on the exhale. (Like a vacuum bag it only works one way)
    -Cloth masks are worse than no mask at all !

    The masks don’t work.
    Wash your hands. Sanitize your hands. Don’t touch stuff. Wash your phone. Don’t touch people. And keep your distance. Why? Because your breath stinks, your deodorant is failing, your shoes are old and stink, that shirts not clean, I like my space. Trust me I can hear you from here. Lots of reasons. But trust me, the masks do not work.

    *Occupational Safety & Hazard Association sited.
    The top American organization for safety.
    They regulate and educate asbestos workers, surgical rooms, you name it.
    If your mask gives you security wear it, just know it is a false sense of security.
    If stores stopped enforcing it no one would continue this nonsense.

  17. On July 20, 2020 at 12:49 pm, penses said:

    @Fr. John
    If the President issued an executive order banning masks….

    In Feb?Mar? Fauci issued a statement that masks were worthless. Master of the flipflop.

  18. On July 20, 2020 at 3:58 pm, IndispensableDestiny said:

    @ Heywood

    Sorry to be so harsh, but I keeping seeing similar misconceptions.

    37 years in Chem Bio defense as an Army civilian, I finished my studies in air filtration. One of the shit jobs (for an engineer) I had was hand assembling gas-particulate filters for an important Army weapons system.

    DOP can be easily aerosolized into 0.3 micron particles. It happens that 0.3 microns falls at the minimum of the curve plotting particle size vs. removal efficiency. From an engineering perspective, it is where momentum and inertial effects cross over. Said otherwise, smaller particles collide with fibers during brownian motion, larger one collide by direct impact. Only the largest particles get trapped between the fibers.

    DOP is not used much any more because it’s a carcinogen. Sticky stuff too if you have to clean out the aerosol generator. PAO, Poly Alpha Olefin, has replaced it. For human subject testing wearing masks, it’s been corn oil for a very long time.

    So I stand by what I wrote. When you write that 0.3 microns is the “the minimum size necessary,” you are incorrect. The 0.3 micron particle, give or take a bit, is the most difficult to remove from the air stream.

  19. On July 20, 2020 at 4:14 pm, Herschel Smith said:


    You are the one with the misconceptions. HEPA filters (much more efficient than anything people are putting in front of their face right now) are effective down to 0.3 um in diameter (we won’t here discuss the different definitions of particle diameter since that is too much for this purpose).

    HEPA filters are rated for nothing below that, unless you’re discussing the more efficient filters in place at NASA (for good reasons, but much more expensive, with a much higher DP).

    I know exactly how particles are filtered, including electrostatic attraction (viruses are only very weakly polar). HEPA filters will be utterly worthless for a virus (including if entrained within a droplet).

    The justification (a half century ago with the AEC, predecessor to NRC) for allowing HEPA filters (rather than NASA HEPA filters) in commercial nuclear reactors was that HEPA filters were effective down to the mass median size of all know CsI and organic forms of iodine, thought to be the most significant dose producing isotope for reactor accidents based on thyroid CDE. This mass median size was ~ 0.35 um.

    I’ve lost patience with you. It has nothing to do with you being “harsh.” It has to do with being a troll, and incorrect to boot.

  20. On July 20, 2020 at 4:26 pm, IndispensableDestiny said:


    Here’s a PDF from the Donaldson Company. We did a lot of work with them, back in the day. Great guys.

    The important part: “The 0.3 micron benchmark is used in efficiency ratings, because it approximates the most difficult particle size for a filter to capture. HEPA filters are even more efficient in removing particles that are smaller than 0.3 microns and larger than 0.3 microns.”


    See figure 2.

    I don’t know what the AEC’s reasoning was long ago.

    I don’t troll.

  21. On July 20, 2020 at 4:30 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Oh. That’s awesome. So you sent me a sales brochure rather than engineering studies signed and sealed by a PE.

    EDIT: And if filters did better the smaller the particle size, elemental iodine (I2) would have been captured on HEPA filters rather than charcoal beds at TMI.

    But … there are those troublesome little things called facts.

    Last post for you, troll.

  22. On July 20, 2020 at 5:10 pm, Heywood said:

    @Herschel. I am worried that sheeple fall for the crap from people like Indispensible. He throws out garbage and tries not to be TOO controversial so that people shut him off immediately. I am not an engineer nor nearly as smart as you, but I do run hundreds of people through fit testing of N95 masks where we measure the particulate inside and outside of the mask, and i can tell you that, even with me standing over them making sure it is donned and fitted properly, 75% still fail with just as much particulate inside as outside the mask. Even if the fabric was tight enough to filter the virus (it isn’t) if it isn’t the proper size and fitted correctly it is useless. This is political not medical.

  23. On July 20, 2020 at 5:16 pm, Herschel Smith said:


    It’s really a shame. I try to let people come to their own conclusions and do the study themselves. Besides, I don’t want to write a book every time I post.

    There’s actually an argument for saying that smaller particles are more efficiently captured by filter media than the larger because of the tendency of the air stream to cause particle slip from the strands of the media (i.e., the higher aerodynamic diameter of the particle, or for our purposes, the face area presented to the air stream).

    The thing is this. That’s only good down to a certain size, and the most important thing is this: that’s for strongly polar particles. Particles that carry a charge, because electrostatic attraction is the biggest effect in HEPA filtration.

    When all of this began, I looked carefully at whether the virus to which we are referring (SARS-CoV-2) is polar.

    No. Or at the very best, it is only VERY weakly polar.

    Thus did I mention whether I2 was captured by HEPAs or the charcoal beds at TMI (that was a hint to the commenter to go back and do some more homework). Since I2 is NONPOLAR, similar to our virus. You see, I’m gracious to people who want to discuss and learn. I’m not to argumentative jerks.

    I just don’t suffer trolls who don’t do their homework and want to argue about nothing all day.

  24. On July 20, 2020 at 10:49 pm, Georgiaboy61 said:

    Re: “You may as well try to catch mosquitoes with a chain link fence. The masks aren’t helping you.”

    They aren’t designed to help you; they are designed to train you to be obedient – to accustom you and yours and everyone else in soceity to obey orders from above without question.

    The masks are also a form of humiliation, stigma and degradation. We see that BLM and Antifa “protestors” are – as if by magic – exempt from social-distancing rules and masking orders. The protected classes don’t have to obey these rules, but Joe/Jane Average on the street had better do so – or else.

    One commentator on the internet – I can’t recall whom – remarked that the masks were like the Star of David Jews in Nazi Germany were required to wear in the years before the Final Solution but after Hitler came to power. The star signified that the wearer was an “Untermensch,” a “sub-human” judged to be inferior by the regime.

    Yet another commentator suggested that the masks functioned not unlike the burka or hajib women are forced to wear in Islamic societies. Except this time, the infidels – male and female alike – will wear them.

    The usual globalist suspects and stooges at the UN and WHO are calling for a “permanent lock-down” due to covid-19, and already several mayors in blue state America have formed (or considered forming) “mask enforcement patrols,” whose duty it will be to enforce masking, social-distancing, and other draconian rules.

  25. On July 21, 2020 at 6:15 am, Fr. John+ said:

    Here’s the definitive essay on this whole issue. Just got it yesterday in my ‘in’ box.


  26. On July 21, 2020 at 8:33 am, Ned said:

    Georgiaboy61 – exactly. That’s why TPTB don’t care what type of useless face covering you wear. It’s solely about compliance and getting people used to giving up rights for a “feeling” of “security.”

    It has nothing at all to do with safety.

  27. On July 21, 2020 at 6:44 pm, penses said:

    If the President issued an executive order banning masks….Nope. today he did just the opposite. Prepare yourself for third world country status.

  28. On July 22, 2020 at 3:02 pm, Tim said:

    Good video – but YouTube has now removed it. Unbelievable. Any alternative sources? Even the Ben Swann site has it removed -more censorship via YouTube on this issue. Just disgusting. If you can’t handle the truth – delete it!

  29. On July 22, 2020 at 6:56 pm, penses said:

    Why doesn’t everyone move to Bitchute or Gab.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Medical and was published July 19th, 2020 by Herschel Smith.

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