FACT CHECK: Viral Image Claims To Show CDC Document About Face Masks

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) document making several claims about face masks.

Verdict: False

There is no record of the CDC putting out the document. A spokesperson for the CDC has confirmed it is fabricated.

Fact Check:

Social media platforms have become replete with misinformation about the face coverings meant to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

This particular image shows a document, purportedly from the CDC, that makes several dubious claims about face masks, including that cloth masks “trap carbon dioxide” and “become mildew ridden in 30 minutes.” It appears to bear the CDC letterhead.

“CLOTH MASK: (DO NOT FILTER ANYTHING),” reads part of the alleged document. “As you exhale, you are ridding your lungs of contaminants and carbon dioxide. CLOTH MASKS trap this carbon dioxide the best. It actually risks your HEALTH, rather than protect it. The moisture caught in these masks will become mildew ridden in 30 minutes. Dry coughing, enhanced allergies, sore throat are all symptoms of micro-mold in your mask.”

The document cannot be found anywhere on the CDC’s website. Had the CDC put out a document making such claims, it would have been picked up by major news outlets, yet none have. Jasmine Reed, a CDC public affairs specialist, told The Associated Press that it is fake.

“CDC typically does not issue guidance or recommendations to the public in such a format,” Reed told The Associated Press. (RELATED: Did Florida’s Surgeon General Recommend People Stop Wearing Face Masks?)

In recent months, the Daily Caller has debunked claims that face masks cause dangerous levels of carbon dioxide in the blood and fungal lung infections that result in emergency room visits. While public health officials do recommend washing cloth face masks after each use, there is no evidence one poses a health risk of mildew build-up after only 30 minutes, The Associated Press reported.

The Food and Drug Administration notes that surgical masks do not block “very small particles in the air that may be transmitted by coughs, sneezes, or certain medical procedures.” However, they do provide protection against “large droplets, splashes, or sprays of bodily or other hazardous fluids,” as well as protect others from the wearer’s respiratory emissions, per the CDC.

While the CDC does recommend against the general public using N95 respirators, it is not because they are ineffective. The CDC website states “surgical masks and N95 respirators are critical supplies that should be reserved for health care workers and other first responders.”

The CDC states on its website that people should wear face coverings, which help prevent people with COVID-19 from spreading it to others, in public where social distancing measures cannot be maintained.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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