Monday, September 28, 2020

Flight Suit Fashion

 Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine

Ed Hessler

Goats and Soda (NPR) posed a listener's question on dress and flying that caught my eye. 

Marc Silver answered what seemed a simple question and I thought the link was worth passing on. As is usual I'll extract a few nuggets which may help you decide to read it or not.

Here is the question: Is wearing a pair of disposable painters' coveralls (full sleeves) then disposing of them when I arrive a good idea when you are flying in terms of protection from the corona virus (including wearing a mask, of course).

"Spoiler alert," Silver responds, "not much (protection)." 

However he expands the answer. He first asked Harvard Medical School's Dr. Abraar Karan and he first talked about fomites which are viral contaminated non-living objects that could, to use the common meaning of the phrase, "in theory, be transferred to your hands, if you touch it" or by bringing "your hands to your eyes, nose or mouth.(although if you wash your hands, that gets rid of the risk.)" 

This is unlikely because the virus, according to Karan "'is likely spread primarily through the air, as opposed to other viruses, like Ebola, which are spread though a number of bodily fluids."

Virginia Tech's epidemiologist, Dr. Charlotte Baker said that "she makes it a practice after a flight to change her clothes when she gets to her destination. After carefully changing into a fresh outfit, she puts the clothes she wore on the plane into a sealed plastic bag--to keep them separate from the rest of her stuff." So, a full body jump suit solves that problem but creates another: environmental.

The money line, the take-home line from Silver is this: "Karan and Baker both stress that whatever clothing you wear will never outweigh the protective benefits of face masks and frequent hand-sanitizing. And that's a growing concern about airborne transmission (which masks can block) — and the role it might play on planes."

Silver then discusses covering your eyes (to be considered), the use of lab goggles, plastic face shields, even swimmer's goggles. By now we know that plastic or latex gloves are not much help since viral particles cling to them which makes removing them risky. Health workers know how to avoid self-contamination from removing contaminated gloves through training and experience and washing their hands in soap and water immediately.

Silver also discusses wrapping yourself in a blanket when socializing--at a safe distance, of course--as the weather cools. If you do this, then wash the blanket as well as any you supply friends in the event "any stray viral particles from a wayward cough or sneeze or your conversation. 

 Better yet, make use of a familiar acronym but with new meaning: encourage BYOB, bring your own blanket. I suppose if both are intended then it is BYOBB.

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