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I came across a research that stated, the most disease ridden place in a toilet is actually the air dryer. The hot and moist microcosm that develops around the dryer due to frequent use helps in breading germs.

If I were to consider the research accurate and implement the same logic on masks. The stuffy environment created around the mouth and nose due to a sweaty day wearing masks has the same, if not way better chances of breeding or maintaining germs, doesn't it?

Doesn't the constant moisture from our breath, trapped within the confines of a mask, make for a denser moist environment for microbes? Similar to those found around air dryers?

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    $\begingroup$ The question is not "dumb". I have chosen to reply to the precise question not to the more broad question in the title which is much more complex. $\endgroup$ – Erwan Legrand Apr 27 at 9:18
  • $\begingroup$ You are right, I should reword the question to be nore precise $\endgroup$ – Apocaleone Apr 27 at 9:19
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    $\begingroup$ This sort of question would be better on SE Medical Sciences if anywhere, as it does not involve any specific virus biology. $\endgroup$ – David Apr 27 at 12:52
  • $\begingroup$ Are you talking about microbes or about viruses, e.g. COVID? Viruses are not microbes. (They do not have significant physiology independent from their hosts.) $\endgroup$ – Maximilian Press Jun 12 at 22:17
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Viruses "breed" (replicate) within infected cells, not within masks. Other kinds of microbes such as bacteria could breed within masks provided they find substances they can feed on in this environment.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viral_replication

Sars-Cov-2 has been shown to survive for extended periods of time (hours) on various types of surfaces. There is no reason why masks would be different. The following study found that Sars-Cov-2 remains viable up to 72 hours on plastic. Surgical masks are typically made of polypropylene or other polymers.

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmc2004973

However, a more recent study found that Sars-Cov-2 is unlikely to remain viable for extended periods of time on porous material such as fabric.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7978145/

Also to this day the following study appears to be the only one documenting a case of indirect contamination.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32758198/

(Obviously, I cannot prove the non-existence of other such studies.)

As a result, droplets and aerosols (smaller droplets that remain suspended in the air) are thought to be the main vectors of contamination. Secondary contamination due to contact with a contaminated surface is thought to be a rare occurrence.

In the case of masks, one would probably have to touch a mask which has been recently worn and not wash their hands afterwards in order to be contaminated. It seems unlikely to me that this would be vector of transmission.

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  • $\begingroup$ hmm..yes. You are right. Viruses cannot breed there, but do they survive longer in moist environments? $\endgroup$ – Apocaleone Apr 27 at 9:15
  • $\begingroup$ I have edited the answer. I have no time for more right now: I must work. I will try to add references later. Editions / improvements are welcome in the mean time. I do not think the mask being moist is relevant here. Sars-Cov-2 has been shown to survive for hours on dry surfaces. $\endgroup$ – Erwan Legrand Apr 27 at 9:32
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I have also delved into some similar articles that point towards the conclusion you make. Although what I want to know about is the moist environment created around the mask, rather than the surface itself. We are constantly breathing out moist air, and masks trap it within itself for extended periods.Making for a denser moist environment similar to the ones found around air dryers. $\endgroup$ – Apocaleone Apr 27 at 9:50
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    $\begingroup$ You may be right, but there is no way of telling because your answer consists of unsupported assertions. That does not cut it here. $\endgroup$ – David Apr 27 at 12:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Apocaleone: We have abundant, if not overwhelming, evidence that the use of masks does significantly reduce the spread of the COVID virus (and other airborne infectious diseases), so theories that masks increase the spread have been proven false. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Apr 27 at 17:37

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