COVID-19: Those Are Fibre Threads, Not Worms in Your Face Masks

As per doctors and healthcare experts, the tiny particles seen on masks are fibre threads, not worms.

Updated
WebQoof
4 min read
Fact Check: Those are Fibre Threads, Not Worms in Your Face Masks
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A viral video showing close-ups of face masks is being circulated on social media with a claim that masks are actually made up of tiny worms or parasites, which can invade our nasal cavity, pushing an anti-mask narrative amid a raging pandemic.

However, when replicating what was shown in the viral video, we found that the tiny moving particles were threads of fibre and not worms. Further, the World Health Organisation (WHO), ICMR and CDC have now recommended double masking as a preventive measure against the COVID infection.

WHAT'S THE CLAIM?

The aforementioned video shows a man burning masks in bulk on the streets and telling people that he found black coloured worms inside masks when he heated them as part of an experiment.

An archived version of the post can be accessed <a href="https://perma.cc/G3T2-PKEQ">here</a>.
An archived version of the post can be accessed here.

(Source: Facebook/Screenshot)

In another version of the same claim, we can see a person steaming a surgical mask over a bowl of water with a voiceover stating that the worms inside the mask reveal themselves only when heated.

An archived version of the post can be accessed <a href="https://perma.cc/32FA-RZFA">here</a>.
An archived version of the post can be accessed here.

(Source: Facebook/Screenshot)

We found similar videos on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

WHAT HAPPENED WHEN WE CONDUCTED THE SAID "EXPERIMENT"?

We conducted a step-by-step experiment with masks as mentioned in the viral video and found that the "black worms" were actually fibre threads visible when the mask was heated.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of visuals.

COVID-19: Those Are Fibre Threads, Not Worms in Your Face Masks

(Photo: Altered by The Quint)

COVID-19: Those Are Fibre Threads, Not Worms in Your Face Masks

(Photo: Altered by The Quint)

HERE'S WHAT DOCTORS AND HEALTHCARE EXPERTS ARE SAYING

As per doctors and health experts, the structures that are being referred to as tiny worms in a mask are actually harmless fibre threads.

"The mask or a (swab for a COVID-19) test can contain threads that either got there during the manufacturing process or during their handling just before they were about to be used," a report by AFP quotes Jana Nebesarova, assistant professor at the electron microscopy laboratory at the Biological Center of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

“In any event, they (threads) are not dangerous for a healthy person. This is stuff we breathe in every single day and our ciliated epithelium, which lines our respiratory system, knows how to deal with these alien microscopic particles very well.”
Jana Nebesarova to AFP

Marina Jovanovic, an expert in biological science and research associate at the Institute of General and Physical Chemistry in Belgrade also rubbished the viral claims.

“When you put on the mask, when you touch it, you bring on various fragments, all sorts of impurities,” she told AFP. “What we saw on that mask were fragments, not parasites or anything alive.”

THE MOVEMENTS SEEN IN VIRAL VIDEO

Scientists told AFP that the fibres in the masks can move either due to static electricity or due to the light nature of aerosol particles.

“When you try to catch an object in a pool, it moves away from you because you created a wave with your hand. Similarly, when you approach a thread with the tip of a pair of tweezers, you create a wave in the drop of water and the thread moves. However, that does not in any way prove that the particle is alive or capable of moving on its own,” Nebesarova told AFP.

HEALTH BODIES NOW RECOMMEND DOUBLE MASKING

Since the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic in late 2019, health bodies across the world including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Health Ministry of India have emphasised on the importance of face masks in preventing the spread of coronavirus.

In fact, United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now recommended people to practice double masking as it offers "strengthened protection".

In an experiment, the CDC found that double masking prevents 80 percent particles from entering our nasal cavity as compared to 40 percent prevention by single masks.

Evidently, misleading videos are being shared by users on social media to discourage people from wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 infection.

(This story has been published as a part of The Quint’s COVID-19 fact-check project targeting rural women.)

(Not convinced of a post or information you came across online and want it verified? Send us the details on WhatsApp at 9643651818, or e-mail it to us at webqoof@thequint.com and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

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