University of Florida Lab Finds Dangerous Pathogens on Children’s Face Masks

A laboratory at the University of Florida that recently analyzed a small sample of face masks detected the presence of 11 dangerous pathogens on the coverings, including bacteria that cause diphtheria, pneumonia, and meningitis.

by Meiling Lee

in person schooling continues in utah as many districts across the nation struggle to return

A student wears a mask as he does his work at Freedom Preparatory Academy in Provo, Utah, on Feb. 10, 2021. (George Frey/Getty Images)

Parents in Gainesville, Florida, who had concerns about the harm caused to their children wearing face masks throughout the school day in 90 degree Fahrenheit weather had sent six masks — five that were worn by children aged 6 to 11 for five to eight hours at school, and one worn by an adult — to be analyzed for contaminants at the University of Florida’s Mass Spectrometry Research and Education Center.

Of the six coverings, three were surgical, two were cotton, and one was a polyester gaiter. Masks that haven’t been worn and a t-shirt worn at school acted as the control samples for the analysis.

Five of the masks were found to be contaminated with parasites, fungi, and bacteria, according to Rational Ground. One was found to contain a virus that can cause a fatal systemic disease in cattle and deer.

Other less harmful pathogens that can cause ulcers, acne, and strep throat were also detected on the face coverings.

None of the controls were contaminated with pathogens, while “samples from the front top and bottom of the t-shirt found proteins that are commonly found in skin and hair, along with some commonly found in soil.”

Amanda Donoho, a mother of three elementary school children, teamed up with other parents to send the masks to the lab because her sons broke out in rashes, which she believes were caused by prolonged mask-wearing.

“Our kids have been in masks all day, seven hours a day in school,” Donoho told Fox & Friends on June 17. “The only break that they get is to eat or drink.”

Donoho said that while students haven’t had to wear a mask outside at school since April 2021, masks were still required when they were within six to eight feet of each other. Masks must also be worn on school buses.

Further research is needed to better understand what is being put on children’s faces, Donoho said.

Superintendent Carlee Simon at the Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) in Gainesville, Florida, didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that kids should continue to wear masks and social distance until they’re able to get vaccinated, despite data showing that children are minimally affected by COVID-19 and aren’t super-spreaders of the virus.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed an executive order on May 3, suspending all COVID-19 emergency restrictions, including mask-wearing.

However, certain school districts like ACPS kept their mask policy in place for the remainder of the school year, while masks were optional within the community.

ACPS says masks will be optional for the 2021–22 school year, but would continue to be required on school buses until mid-September unless the federal transportation regulation changes.

The CDC stated that masks are still required on planes, trains, buses, and at airports.

In an updated June 17 guidance, masks are no longer required in “outdoor areas of a conveyance (like a ferry or the top deck of a bus)” and fully vaccinated individuals may resume everyday activities that were done prior to the pandemic without mask-wearing or physically distancing unless required by federal or state law.

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second shot of a messenger RNA vaccine or after a single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The CDC didn’t give guidance for people who’ve recovered from COVID-19 and have natural immunity.

The CDC didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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