Timeline of face masks

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This is a timeline of face masks.

Sample questions

[File:Cloth mask, mask pads and medical face masks - small.jpg]

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Time period Development summary More details
6th century BC "The earliest recorded face mask-like objects in history date to the 6th century BC"[1]
14th century "In the 14th century, the Black Death spread to Europe. This also greatly promoted the emergence of functional face mask-like objects."[1]
16th century " In the 16th century, French doctor Charles de Lorme invented the beak mask."[1]
17th century "While the plague doctors of the 17th century certainly had a scary getup, de Lorme’s miasma-inspired leather overcoat and bird mask didn’t prevent anyone from contracting the plague. "[2] [3] "As far back as the 17th century, the famous "beaked mask", filled with plants known for their disinfecting properties, had already been dreamt up by Charles de Lorme to protect plague doctors from airborne contagion"[3]
19th century "The design of the mask took a big step forward in the 19th century. "[1] "Throughout the 19th century, doctors continued to go without masks while workers in factories were encouraged to use them to help filter particle-ridden air."[2] "The practice of using face masks to prevent infection in hospitals started in the late 19th century."[4] "in the 1800s there was an understanding of the usefulness of face masks in factories."[2] "The modern surgical face mask came into use in the late nineteenth century, around the time that germs and viruses were reshaping medical understandings of disease."[5] " it was in the latter half of the 19th century – when medical research was benefiting considerably from Louis Pasteur’s work – that face masks began to be worn in hospital settings."[3] "According to “History of Surgical Face Masks: The myths, the masks, and the men and women behind them,” by John L. Spooner, face masks first appeared at the very end of 19th century, used as a protective measure worn by doctors during surgery to prevent airborne bacteria from entering an open wound."[6] " In the mid-1800s, German scientists conducted studies with industrial dust and bacteria and their relationship with respiratory health"[7]
1868–1912 The modern history of masks in Japan begins in the Meiji Era.[8]
1870s "By the late 1870s, scientists learned about bacteria. Miasma fell from fashion as the modern field of microbiology emerged."[9]
1880s "Before Robert Koch’s identification in the 1880s of the bacteria that caused tuberculosis and cholera, dirt was simply dirt. People knew nothing of threatening microbes or viruses."[5]
20th century "Throughout the early decades of the 20th century, patents were issued various styles of masks. Most commonly, masks were made of cotton gauze and held in place with a metal frame."[2]
1912–1926 "The mask business flourished during the Taisho Era (1912-26) as the economy boomed with factories filling orders from Europe in the throes of World War I. Numerous products made from leather, velvet and other materials advertised under various brands inundated the market."[8]
1920s "The surgical mask was used first in the operating rooms of Germany and the USA in the 1920s."[10] "By the late 1920’s, the use of gauze face masks was widespread."[11] "In the 1920s, masks are standard in operating rooms. Over the next century, medical researchers continue to experiment with designs and materials."[4]
1930s "n the middle of the 1930s, the research on the role of facemasks was continued in Germany and the USA"[10] "In the 1930s variations of the gauze tlpe masks began to appear."[11]
1940s " Only in the 1940s, washable and sterilizable masks gained acceptance in German and international surgery with only the number of gauze layers varying (2–3, 3–4)"[10] "With the introduction of antibiotics in the 194O’s, and their rapid acceptance as a means of controlling infection, interest in surgical masks decreased."[11]
1950s "In the late 50s there was renewed interest in surgical masks that would effectively protect the patient’s open wound from the discharge of pathogens from the mouth and nose of operating room personnel."[11] "Asians, especially in Japan, China and Taiwan, have worn masks for a host of cultural and environmental reasons, including non-medical ones, since at least the 1950s."[12]
1960s "Beginning in the mid-1960s, the use of disposable items made of paper and fleece was introduced all over the world after this was started in the USA."[10] "Moderns disposable masks grew in popularity in the 1960s"[2]
1980s "In the 1980s, when the hay fever mask became common in Japanese society, flu masks gradually reappeared."[13]
1990s "N95 respirators were used in industrial applications for decades before the need for a respirator circled back to clinical settings in the 1990s with the rise of drug-resistant tuberculosis."[9]
2020s "Experts continue to debate the effectiveness of face masks in preventing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only do policies, laws, and practical considerations (such as the national supply of masks and how to prioritize them) vary from region to region, people’s attitudes toward face masks may also reflect their cultural values and history."[14]

Full timeline

Year Targeted hazard Event type Details Location
9000 BP Early well-documented masks are found in the Judaean Desert.[15] Middle East
69 BC–30 BC Cleopatra VII Philopator is famous for using several different combinations to create "the ultimate face masks".[16] Egypt
1720 Paintings from Marseille during the last major outbreak of bubonic plague in western Europe show gravediggers and people handling bodies with cloth around their faces.[9] France
1827 Scottish scientist Robert Brown discovers the later called "Brownian motion" which theoretically proves the protective effect of masks on dust.[1] ". In 1827, the Scottish botanist Robert Brown discovered the phenomenon known as the Brownian movement – the theory that collisions of rapidly moving gas molecules causes the random bouncing motion of extremely small particles. Understanding the behavior of small particles, the properties of filter media and their interactions led to the first particulate respirator."[7] United Kingdom
1848 Mining pollution Lewis Hassley in the United States develops a mask for miners, obtaining the first patent for a protective mask.[1][1] United States
1861 French scientist Louis Pasteur proves the presence of bacteria in the air. This makes more people pay attention to the design of modern masks.[1] France
1877 The Nealy Smoke Mask is invented and patented in England. It users a series of water-saturated sponges and a bag of water attached to a neck strap. The wearer could squeeze the bag of water to re-saturate the sponges to filter out some of the smoke.[7] United Kingdom
1879 One of the first domestically produced masks is advertised in newspapers in Japan.[8] Japan
1895 Noxious fumes Henrot suggests equipping the privates in Madagascar with face masks to protect them from noxious fumes. By this time this idea is considered comical if not downright ridiculous.[3] Madagascar
1897 Polish surgeon Jan Mikulicz-Radecki describes a surgical mask composed on one layer of gauze.[17] The practice of using face masks is considered to be introduced by him.[4] Poland
Jan Mikulicz-Radecki
1897 German hygienist Carl Flügge publishes his works on the development of droplet infections as part of his research on tuberculosis.[10] Flügge, along with Jan Mikulicz-Radecki, suggest the idea of a facemask after having demonstrated the presence of bacterial droplets from the nose and mouth.[18][10] Germany
Carl Flügge
1897 Doctors start wearing early surgical masks.[9]
1898 Huebner recommends masks made of two layers of gauze, worn at a distance from the nose, to be used during operations.[17]
1899 A French doctor develops a mask made of six layers of gauze and sews it on the collar of a surgical gown. The user only needs to flip the collar up when using it. It would gradually evolve into a form that could be freely tied and hung on the ears with a looped strap, thus giving birth to the modern mask.[1] France
1905 "Hamilton proposes that scarlet fever is transmitted through droplet infection. She recommends that masks be worn by nurses handling sterile dressings and by doctors during surgery because of the danger of droplet infection from the mouth and nose."[17] "In 1905, Chicago physician Alice Hamilton publishes an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reporting on experiments measuring the amount of streptococci bacteria expelled when scarlet fever patients cough or cry. She also measures the strep bacteria from healthy doctors and nurses when they talk or cough, leading her to recommend masks during surgery."[4] " Hamilton,10 in 1905, found heavy droplet contamination from surgeons’ mouths and noses during talking"[18] United States
Alice Hamilton in 1893
1910 The application of face covers starts becoming common in surgery and the general hospitals.[10]
1910 "In 1910, an epidemic of pneumonic plague strikes Manchuria. Appointed by the Chinese court to head anti-plague efforts, the Penang-born, Cambridge-educated physician Wu Lien-Teh (Wu Liande) argues that the disease is transmitted through airborne contact. To prevent its spread, he develops masks to be worn by medical personnel and the general public."[4] "The practice of wearing face-masks to prevent disease can be dated back to the 1910-11 Manchurian epidemic in China. It was Wu Lien-teh, a Cambridge educated Chinese doctor who described the mask as a ​‘prophylactic apparatus’ that could be worn by all to protect themselves from the plague. "[19] ". China has had an ethic of wearing masks during public-health emergencies since the outbreak of the pneumonic plague in 1910"[20] "Those masks widely adopted by public health officials in Manchuria in 1910 left no special impression on the region afterwards"[5] China
1915 Meltzer recommends fine mesh gauze masks to cover the faces of patients with infantile paralysis and the faces of personnel attending them.[17]
1915 An article in Le Temps describes:
“A respiratory mask. — It was designed in 1868 by Dr Henrot to ward off the danger of contagion from certain infectious diseases via the airways – diphtheria, for example. It is comprised of a framework sealing in the nose and mouth, which is closed on the outside by two metal cloths between which cotton discs are placed. All the infectious germs remain attached to these discs and the air is thus rigorously filtered. A small, very simple and highly sensitive valve lets out the inhaled air. The whole of this small device is made of aluminium, so it is very light, and is easy to wear like spectacles.”
1917 The first commercial dust respirator is invented.[13]
1918 Weaver reports that over a two-year period the incidence of diphtheria contracted by attendants of infected patients was reduced to zero after wearing masks of double thickness gauze.[17] "In 1918, Weaver11 reported a decreased incidence of diphtheria contracted by healthcare providers from infected patients when masks were worn. "[18]
1918 ""The recent conclusion, adopted by the Academy of Medicine at Dr Bezançon’s proposal, recommending that masks be worn to avoid the spread of flu among health staff, is not new. The face mask first emerged many years ago […] Would it be too complicated to wear over the mouth and nose a few layers of gauze-like fabric held by a wire framework, just like we wear spectacles – or even more simply, to wear a thick hat veil?” (Le Petit Parisien, 27 October 1918)"[3]
1918 Influenza During the 1918 flu pandemic, people again starts to wear face masks. However, while the practice whould endure in China due to continued outbreaks, it would be largely forgotten in the United States and other countries.[21] " photographs taken during the influenza pandemic of 1918 show ordinary people as well as public health officials around the world wearing gauze masks."[5]
A nurse wears a cloth mask while treating a patient in Washington, DC
1918 Influenza During the 1918 flu pandemic, the Red Cross encourages women to sew masks.[22]
Seattle police wearing masks in December 1918
1918 Influenza Anti-Mask League of San Francisco United States
Barbers wearing masks during the epidemic
1919 The United States Bureau of Mines initiates the first respirator certification program, and certifies the first respirator.[7] United States
1919 By the end of the 1918 flu pandemic, most scientists and health commissions come to a consensus about the benefits of wearing masks.[23]
1919 Tokyo, Japan
1920 The use of masks becomes routine practice in the operating room.[18]
1926 A clinical study first demonstrates a potential link between wearing masks and reduced surgical site infection.[18]
1927 German surgeon Martin Kirschner describes the necessity of wearing a facemask in his multi-volume operational theory in the chapter Measures to combat infections.[10] Germany
1927 American bacteriologist Edwin O. Jordan publishes his definitive study, which determines that masks are effective when worn by patients already sick or by those directly exposed to victims, including nurses and physicians. Jordan also acknowledges, however, that “masks are uncomfortable and inconvenient, as anyone who has worn them can testify” and require a great deal of “discipline, self-imposed or other.”[24] United States
1929 ""At the Academy of Medicine’s session yesterday, the knowledgeable Professor Marchoux made an announcement of the greatest interest and relevance today; he recommends, particularly for doctors and hospital staff, wearing a light structure, hat veil or mask, in addition to spectacles, on the face, so as to protect against the projection of septic droplets when flu patients under treatment sneeze, cough or speak.” (Le Journal, 13 February 1929)"[3]
1929 During a meningitis outbreak in China, the government encourages citizens to use masks and avoid public gatherings.[25] China
1930 Walker publishes data confirming the value of face masks in preventing infection of surgical wounds.[11]
1934 An influenza epidemic in Japan triggers a different relationship with masks for the citizens, that of social courtesy. Infected people become conscientious about not passing on germs to others, and masks are no longer only worn by healthy individuals trying to avoid illness.[19] Japan
1935 Facemasks are mentioned in an edition of the book Assistance for operating staff.[10]
1935 Study by Meleney further confirms the value of face masks in preventing infection of surgical wounds.[11]
1937 During the Second Sino-Japanese War, face masks become essential protection against chemical and biological warfare.[25] China
1937 Study by Hart and Davis confirms the value of face masks in preventing infection of surgical wounds.[11]
1948–1950 After a period of decline since the end of the Spanish flu, the use of face masks quickly becomes common again during several major flu outbreaks around this time.[26]
1958 Kiser and Hitchcock report on a mask that combines the deflection and filtration princip1es. This plastic mask diverts the flow of breath backward on either side. Filter material near the side outlets is designed to trap the deflected organisms.[11]
1958 Andersen develops a sampling chamber to collect airborne particles in several categories of decreasing particle size.[11]
1959 Adam evaluates a fitted filter mask and finds it more efficient than gauze masks.[11]
1960 Rockwood and O’Donoghuelg report that the length of time a filter mask retains its efficiency is three hours, confirming the inefficiency of absorbing gauze masks, and stressing the fact that the proper use of the best mask available could prevent infection.[11]
1961 Bacterial pathogens Musselman reports on a mask designed to be used only once and then discarded. The mask incorporates a filter in a plastic shell that is shaped to fit the face. An elastic band secures it in place. Excellent bacterial filtration is reported.[11]
1961 3M releases a “bubble” surgical mask that takes its inspiration from the cup of a bra. When 3M learns it can’t block pathogens, the mask is re-branded as a “dust” mask."[9] United States
1966–1968 The use of face masks in Japan becomes even more common during several major flu outbreaks happening around this time.[26] Japan
1967 The 3M mask starts being produced by the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company.[1] United States
1972 The N95 respirator mask is invented.[2]
Mascarilla N95.jpg
1995 The N95 respirator becomes a healthcare standard in epidemics.[2]
2002 The 2002–2004 SARS outbreak prompts a mask resurgence in China, Hong Kong and across most of East Asia and Southeast Asia.[6] In East Asian countries besides Japan and China, the public practice was first forged.[1][20] East Asia, Southeast Asia
2003 A comparative study by Seto et al. on a sample size of 111 individuals in Hong Kong finds that healthcare workers who wore paper masks had lower risks of SARS infection.[27] China
2004 A comparative study by Yin et al. on a sample size of 268 individuals Guangdong Province finds that healthcare workers who wore both layer gauze and paper masks had lower risks of SARS infection.[27] China
2009 A comparative study by Liu et al. on a sample size of 447 individuals in Beijing finds that healthcare workers who wore cotton masks had significantly lower risks of SARS infection.[27] China
2009 "85 million N95s were distributed to combat the 2009 swine flu pandemic"
2009–2011 The 2009 swine flu pandemic sees further upsurges of prophylactic mask-wearing in Japan, regardless of government advice.[5] Japan
2011 A survey of mask use conducted in Tokyo shows that face masks are worn as protection against infection or to avoid spreading infections to others, but also as a general form of protection and as a sign of respect and responsibility.[26] Japan
2012 A dense wave of smog in China prompts a large-scale use of masks. The term "PM2.5" begins to enter public awareness, and mask models such as N95 and KN90, which can filter out this fine particulate matter, become highly popular.[1] China
2012 A comparative study by Zhang et al. on a sample size of 56 individuals in Beijing finds that cloth mask use did not significantly decrease the risk of H1N1 infection in health care setting.[27] China
2012 Study at the University of North Carolina and the University of Michigan finds that, to be effective, masks must be worn consistently and early — as soon as flu season begins. The study also shows that masks work best in combination with other measures, particularly frequent hand-washing.[28] United States
2013 A study at University of Cambridge compares homemade masks made out of a variety of household materials with surgical masks on their efficacy in offering protection during an influenza pandemic. All the masks studied in the report are found to reduce the number of microorganisms expelled into the air by volunteers, at least to an extent. Masks from dish/​cleaning towels or cotton blend t‑shirts are found to be considerably effective in capturing small particles (stopping 83% and 74% of the particles, respectively).[19] United Kingdom
Homemade cloth face mask
2015 Study by a team of Indian scientists on the dispersion of particles expelled during coughing/​sneezing using aerodynamic simulation techniques finds that larger droplets emitted from coughing/​sneezing can be blocked by a mask. A mask reduces the distance travelled by smaller droplets from nearly 2 meters to less than 30 cm. At the same time, maintaining a physical distance of at least 2 meters is greatly beneficial as even the particles that escaped the mask in the study could carry the virus no farther than 1.5 metres.[19]
2018 Medical anthropologist Christos Lynteris publishes article prompting readers to think about surgical masks as masks, bodily prostheses that transform the identity of the wearer. The gauze mask has both practical and performative significance. Practically, it creates a barrier against the inhalation of invisible airborne pathogens. At the same time, it performs symbolically the idea of a regime against airborne pathogens.[5]
2018 Influenza Study A study concludes that if only 20 percent of people use masks, it wouldn’t make a difference for the spread of influenza. The effect is found to be substancial at 50 percent compliance, with the use of high-filtration surgical masks.[29]
2019–2020 Surveillance During the Hong Kong protests, face masks are worn as both a political statement and as a tool for disguising identity from closed-circuit TV cameras. They would become so popular that the government would go so far as to try to ban them, immediately elevating them to a symbol of revolt.[6] Hong Kong
Watson queue for face masks 20200130 DSCF2199 (49464278376).jpg
2020 (April 15) Coronavirus disease 2019 Scientists claim having developed a biodegradable material for face masks which is effective at removing particles smaller than 100 nanometres including viruses and has a high breathability.[30][31] Australia
2020 (April 22) A study by the U.S. National Academy of Medicine recommends wearing an anti-projection mask covering the nose and mouth, designed to retain droplets projected when speaking, coughing or sneezing and stop them dispersing in the immediate environment.[3] United States
2020 (April 27) Face masks become mandatory for shopping and in public transportation in Germany.[10] Germany

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See also

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 "The evolution of face masks". globaltimes.cn. Retrieved 10 September 2020. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 "A Brief History of Medical Face Masks". gizmodo.com. Retrieved 11 September 2020. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 "Go out wearing masks! A media history of face masks". newseye.eu. Retrieved 11 September 2020. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 "Pandemics Come and Go But Medical Masks Are Eternal". bloomberg.com. Retrieved 11 September 2020. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 "We share what we exhale". the-tls.co.uk. Retrieved 17 September 2020. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "The Mask". nytimes.comwwww. Retrieved 12 September 2020. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 "100 Years of Respiratory Protection History". cdc.gov. Retrieved 17 September 2020. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "The history behind Japan's love of face masks". japantimes.co.jp. Retrieved 10 September 2020. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 "The untold origin story of the N95 mask". fastcompany.com. Retrieved 12 September 2020. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 10.8 10.9 Matuschek, Christiane; Moll, Friedrich; Fangerau, Heiner; Fischer, Johannes C.; Zänker, Kurt; van Griensven, Martijn; Schneider, Marion; Kindgen-Milles, Detlef; Knoefel, Wolfram Trudo; Lichtenberg, Artur; Tamaskovics, Bálint; Djiepmo-Njanang, Freddy Joel; Budach, Wilfried; Corradini, Stefanie; Häussinger, Dieter; Feldt, Torsten; Jensen, Björn; Pelka, Rainer; Orth, Klaus; Peiper, Matthias; Grebe, Olaf; Maas, Kitti; Bölke, Edwin; Haussmann, Jan. "The history and value of face masks". PMID 32576263 Check |pmid= value (help). doi:10.1186/s40001-020-00423-4. 
  11. 11.00 11.01 11.02 11.03 11.04 11.05 11.06 11.07 11.08 11.09 11.10 11.11 Spooner, John L. "History of Surgical Face Masks: The myths, the masks, and the men and women behind them". doi:10.1016/S0001-2092(08)71359-0. 
  12. "Not Just Coronavirus: Asians Have Worn Face Masks for Decades". voanews.com. Retrieved 17 September 2020. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 Horii, Mitsutoshi. "Why Do the Japanese Wear Masks?". japanesestudies.org.uk. Retrieved 13 September 2020. 
  14. "Faced With Face Masks: A Brief Discussion of Current Challenges". naspa.org. Retrieved 13 September 2020. 
  15. "The Masked Man". sapiens.org. Retrieved 11 September 2020. 
  16. "History of the face mask". slideshare.net. Retrieved 17 September 2020. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 Spooner, John L. [Johann Von Mikulicz Radecki describes a surgical mask composed on one layer of gauze. "History of Surgical Face Masks"] Check |url= value (help). doi:10.1016/S0001-2092(08)71359-0. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 Adams, Lu Wang; Aschenbrenner, Carol A.; Houle, Timothy T.; Roy, Raymond C. "Uncovering the History of Operating Room Attire through Photographs". doi:10.1097/ALN.0000000000000932. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 "The history and science of mask-wearing". indiabioscience.org. Retrieved 12 September 2020. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Face Masks Are In". theatlantic.com. Retrieved 13 September 2020. 
  21. "99% Invisible Podcast: History of Face Masks and the Power of PPE in Pandemics". autodesk.com. Retrieved 11 September 2020. 
  22. "COVID-19 Mask Makers Are Part Of A Larger History". sideeffectspublicmedia.org. Retrieved 17 September 2020. 
  23. "A brief history of people refusing to wear masks". fastcompany.com. Retrieved 17 September 2020. 
  24. "Flu Masks Failed In 1918, But We Need Them Now". healthaffairs.org. Retrieved 17 September 2020. 
  25. 25.0 25.1 "A Brief History of Face Masks in China". sixthtone.com. Retrieved 18 September 2020. 
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 "Face masks: Why do different countries in the world have such different recommendations?". sciencenorway.no. Retrieved 11 September 2020. 
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 "Face masks and coverings for the general public: Behavioural knowledge, effectiveness of cloth coverings and public messaging" (PDF). royalsociety.org. Retrieved 12 September 2020. 
  28. "Coronavirus mask guidance remains unclear. Here's how history can help". nbcnews.com. Retrieved 13 September 2020. 
  29. "The Face Mask Debate Reveals a Scientific Double Standard". wired.com. Retrieved 13 September 2020. 
  30. Layt, Stuart (14 April 2020). "Queensland researchers hit sweet spot with new mask material". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 22 August 2020. 
  31. Technology (QUT), Queensland University of. "New mask material can remove virus-size nanoparticles". QUT. Retrieved 22 August 2020.