Your nose is probably under-appreciated for all the work that it does; it helps you to taste food, filter air, protect you from illness, as well as humidifying and regulating the temperature of the air that you breathe. Your sense of smell is also the only sense that’s directly linked to the formation and processing of memories!
It’s more important than ever to follow, as new research has emerged to help us better understand the role of the nose in preventing the spread of the virus. You’ve probably seen people wearing their masks pulled down so it only covers their mouth (and possibly done it yourself from time to time). A new study published in the scientific journal Cell shows how this defeats the point of wearing a mask even more than you might think.
This study identified the different parts of the respiratory tract where the coronavirus multiplies and spreads, and they found that the cells lining the inside of your nose are significantly more likely to become infected and shed virus compared to the throat or lungs.
Scientists also found the virus doesn’t get to the lungs through the blood or the respiratory tract, but rather through infected nasal secretions after you’ve come in contact with the virus. Click here to watch a CBS news story that summarizes the findings.
Simply put, someone who is sick is more likely to spread the virus by breathing out of their nose than if they were breathing out of their mouth, and you are more likely to be exposed to the virus through your nose than through your mouth. This is especially concerning because the virus can be spread even if there are no symptoms present.
This new study further proves that there is little point in wearing a mask at all if you’re not using it to cover your nose. We shouldn’t be wearing them just to go through the motions or because the rules say you have to — the spirit of the policy is to protect everyone around you, just as we would want everyone to do their best to protect us.
Essential workers like us are the best-trained and most knowledgeable frontline fighters against the virus. As the safety experts in our community, it’s imperative we act to protect others; if you see a fellow team member wearing their mask below their nose, send them a gentle reminder that wearing a mask that way is almost as bad as not wearing one at all.