Here's something cool, from the journal Infection Control Today.
"Surgical masks were originally designed to protect the wearer from infectious droplets in clinical settings, but it doesn't help much to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases such as SARS or MERS or influenza," says Choi, the study author.
"Airborne pathogens like influenza are transmitted in aerosol droplets when we cough or sneeze. The masks may well trap the virus-laden droplets but the virus is still infectious on the mask. Merely handling the mask opens up new avenues for infection. Even respirators designed to protect individuals from viral aerosols have the same shortcoming--viruses trapped in respirators still pose risks for infection and transmission."
The article doesn't touch on, but I wonder a bit about, the possibility of a virus initially trapped in the mask, under the pressure of the wearer breathing in and out, finding itself pushed through the mask over time. But I digress.
One might wonder about one more source of germicides in our environment, gradually leading to resistant strains of pathogens. Here's the neat part - no germicide needed:
"Choi and his team developed a salt formulation and applied it to the filters, in the hope that salt crystals would "deactivate" the influenza virus.
"The mechanics of simple chemistry make the treatment work. When an aerosol droplet carrying the influenza virus contacts the treated filter, the droplet absorbs salt on the filter. The virus is exposed to continually increasing concentrations of salt. As the droplet evaporates, the virus suffers fatal physical damage when the salt returns to its crystallized state."
I noticed the study because, in providing commercial janitorial service to the greater Phoenix area, we do a lot of health care cleaning, as well as industrial facilities that are sometimes less than aware of health issues. Thus, we're aggressive about protecting both our client and our crew, emphasizing everything from touch-point sanitation and restroom disinfection, through improving client indoor air quality (to limit airborne pathogens and allergens), to protective gear for our crews, including constantly used surgical gloves and a pathogen killing, long acting hand lotion. We use surgical masks and face masks in biohazard situations, so a more effective surgical mask could be quite useful.