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How does a face mask affect wearers' health on hot days?

Posted at 6:50 PM, Aug 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-01 21:29:09-04

SALT LAKE CITY — As temperatures continue to rise in the state of Utah, some Utahns are finding that wearing a face masks outdoors makes them even hotter, and some say it's harder for them to breathe.

"When you wear a mask, even in the heat — and we’ve studied this in both medical settings and also jobs where people work outdoors — your body temperature actually doesn’t go up nearly as much as you think it does. Wearing a mask, even a medical-grade N95 mask, outdoors for thirty minutes, on average raises your body temperature by .1 degrees Fahrenheit," said Dr. Mark A. Lewis, medical oncologist and director of gastrointestinal oncology at Intermountain Healthcare.

According to Dr. Lewis, the reason face coverings make people feel hotter is because they trap hot, warm air around the mouth, warming the skin, which makes people think their core is getting warmer. While in some instances heat can kill bacteria and some viruses, in order to kill COVID-19, Dr. Lewis says the temperature must get up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

"The reasons we perspire is that fluid carries away heat, so you can just really kind of pat yourself down with a damp rag around the mask and then on your extremities," said Dr. Lewis.

"It's difficult, but it's still a responsibility that we all need to do, so I think if you can’t handle it in the heat, then stay inside," said Lindsay Pitts, a resident of Heber City.