April 30, 2009


Commuters wear protective masks at a subway station in Mexico City April 29, 2009. A deadly swine flu outbreak could push Mexico deeper into recession, hurting an economy that shrank by as much as 8 percent in the first quarter, Mexico's central bank said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Daniel Aguilar (MEXICO HEALTH)

As the swine flu outbreak deepens, panicked citizens of North America are donning face masks. In Mexico City’s downtown square, the Zócalo, for example, the army handed out face masks, and customs officials on U.S. borders are wearing protective personal gear, such as gloves and masks. But do surgical masks offer effective protection against viruses? In 2003, Jon Cohen wrote that the SARS virus, which is just 100 nanometers in size, can easily pass through such barriers. And there’s every reason to believe that swine flu, at 80 to 120 nanometers, can, too. From: Do Surgical Masks Stop Swine Flu? Probably not. (Slate)

Wearing one is at least reassuring. Seeing everybody else wearing one (as the newswires stockpile examples) is not.

(image: Daniel Aguilar/Reuters. Mexico City April 29, 2009)

Post By

Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

The Big Picture

Follow us on Instagram (@readingthepictures) and Twitter (@readingthepix), and


A curated collection of pieces related to our most-popular subject matter.


Comments Powered by Disqus