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Alberta

Mask expert warns Dr. Deena Hinshaw mask use will not protect against COVID-19

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Chris Schaefer is the Director of  SafeCom Training Services Inc. in Edmonton.  He has sent this letter to Dr. Deana Hinshaw.  As an open letter it is also being circulated on social medias.  

Open Letter to Physicians and the Public of Alberta

Dear Dr. Hinshaw,

Re: Alberta Health recommendation that Albertans wear N95, surgical or non-medical masks in public to reduce the likelihood of transmitting or developing a condition from the coronavirus known as COVID-19

I have been teaching and conducting respirator fit testing for over 20 years and now currently for my company SafeCom Training Services Inc. My clients include many government departments, our military, healthcare providers with Alberta Health Services, educational institutions and private industry. I am a published author and a recognized authority on this subject.

Filter respirator masks, especially N95, surgical and non-medical masks, provide negligible COVID-19 protection for the following reasons:

  1. Viruses in the fluid envelopes that surround them can be very small, so small in fact that you would need an electron microscope to see them. N95 masks filter 95% of particles with a diameter of 0.3 microns or larger. COVID-19 particles are .08 – .12 microns.
  2. Viruses don’t just enter us through our mouth and nose, but can also enter through our eyes and even the pores of our skin. The only effective barrier one can wear to protect against virus exposure would be a fully encapsulated hazmat suit with cuffs by ankles taped to boots and cuffs by wrists taped to gloves, while receiving breathing air from a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA)  This barrier is standard gear to protect against a biohazard (viruses) and would have to be worn in a possible virus hazard environment 24/7 and you wouldn’t be able to remove any part of it even to have a sip of water, eat or use the washroom while in the virus environment. If you did, you would become exposed and would negate all the prior precautions you had taken.

     3.  Not only are N95, surgical and non-medical masks useless as protection from COVID-19, but in addition, they also create very real risks and possible serious threats to a wearer’s health for the following reasons

A.  Wearing these masks increases breathing resistance, making it more difficult to both inhale and exhale. According to our Alberta government regulations on respirator (mask) use, anyone that is required to wear a respirator mask should be screened to determine their ability to safely wear one.

Any covering of the mouth and nose increases breathing resistance, whether the mask is certified or not. Those individuals with pre-existing medical conditions of shortness of breath, lung disease, panic attacks, breathing difficulties, chest pain in exertion, cardiovascular disease, fainting spells, claustrophobia, chronic bronchitis, heart problems, asthma, allergies, diabetes, seizures, high blood pressure and pacemakers need to be pre-screened by a medical professional to be approved to be able to safely wear one. Wearing these masks could cause a medical emergency for anyone with any of these conditions.

Pregnancy-related high blood pressure is possible. More research is necessary to determine the impact of wearing a mask for extended periods of time on pregnancy.

It is dangerous to recommend, much less mandate anyone with medical conditions to wear a mask without educating them about the risks involved in wearing them without having been pre-screened and approved by a medical professional first.

B.  In order for any respirator mask to offer protection to a specific user, that user must be individually fitted with the right type, right size, if male – face must be clean shaven (only short moustache allowed). Next, the user must be fit tested with that respirator by a trained professional to determine whether or not the respirator is providing the user with an air- tight seal – a requirement for any respirator mask.

          C.  N95 masks – N for not resistant to oil particles, 95 for the percentage of protection – the lowest level of all respirator masks.

These masks even when properly sized and fitted will not protect against virus exposure, however they are capable of adequate protection from larger particles such as pet dander, pollen and sawdust.

Surgical masks (the paper ones that loop around the ears) – do not seal to the face and do not filter anything.

Nonmedical and/or homemade masks are dangerous because:

  • ●  Not engineered for the efficient yet protective requirements of easy inhalation and effective purging of exhaled carbon dioxide
  • ●  Could cause an oxygen deficiency for the user
  • ●  Could cause an accumulation of carbon dioxide for the user
  • ●  Shouldn’t be recommended under any circumstance

D. They increase body temperature and physical stress – could cause a high temperature alert on a thermometer gun

        E.  They impede verbal communication

F.  N95, surgical and nonmedical masks can create infections and possible disease all by themselves by causing exhaled warm, moist air to accumulate on the inside material of the mask, right in front of the user’s mouth and nose, which is the perfect environment for bacteria to form, grow and multiply. That is why N95 and other disposable masks were only designed to be short duration, specific task use and then immediately discarded.

So if masks are not effective in preventing illness, what is? How about the age-old tried, tested and proven method of protecting our health with a healthy diet, clean water, avoidance of processed, junk and fast foods, plenty of fresh air, sunshine, moderate exercise, adequate restful sleep and avoidance of stress?

We all have an immune system that can fight and overcome any COVID-19 threat if it is healthy and we nurture it.

Thank you for reading this open letter and letting me share my expertise. I ask that you share this with the public via media statement as we are all committed to promoting good health for all Albertans. If you or any of the public wish to contact me with a question or comment, I would love to hear from you. I can best be reached [email protected]

Sincerely,

Chris Schaefer
Director
SafeCom Training Services Inc.

 

COVID-19 – Are we too cautious or too careless?

Alberta

Alberta announces combined $187 million in addictions and homelessness funding

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By Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton

The Alberta government has announced more than $124 million over two years for addiction and mental health services in Edmonton and Calgary, with another $63 million aimed at reducing homelessness in the province over the same period.

The funding for Edmonton and Calgary will go toward increasing treatment spaces while expanding addiction services, with $70 million earmarked for capital spending and $54 million to assist operations.

A 75-bed, co-ed long-term treatment facility is planned to be operational in Edmonton by the end of 2023, while a similar facility is to be built in Calgary by early 2024.

The $63 million is to support steps outlined in the government’s action plan on homelessness.

Premier Jason Kenney stressed his government’s recovery-based approach to the addictions issue when he announced the funding Saturday, calling British Columbia’s recent move to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of hard drugs in January “reckless.”

“In the area of addressing addictions, there are many that believe recovery is a false hope. It’s not possible, and instead what we should do is actually to facilitate dangerous addictions rather than to offer an off-ramp to freedom from addiction,” Kenney said during the announcement at Edmonton’s Herb Jamieson Centre.

“The whole point is to give people a fighting chance to escape from the grips of addiction so they have the opportunity to build a new, safe fulfilling life.

“Recovery works. It’s not a new concept or an untested Utopian theory,” he said.

Under the Alberta plan, the number of winter shelter spaces will be expanded in communities like Edmonton, Wetaskiwin and Lethbridge, and in rural communities where there is an urgent and unmet need.

All provincially funded shelters will also provide round-the-clock access seven days a week, while funding will be equalized between community-based organizations in Edmonton and Calgary.

The funding will include $5 million to create up to 450 additional shelter spots in Edmonton, bringing the number of emergency spaces in the city to over 1,000.

The plan also includes $2.5 million in 2022-2023 to test the so-called service hub model in two pilot programs in Calgary and Edmonton. These six-month long programs will connect people directly with support and services such as addictions recovery, housing and emergency financial support, beginning this fall.

Meanwhile, the addictions funding will be used to increase the ability of direct outreach teams through Edmonton police and Alberta Health Services to provide support and overdose prevention services. The same expansion of services will also be carried out in Calgary.

Edmonton police chief Dale McFee lauded the fact that housing options include support for mental health and addictions as he personally thanked Kenney for the new funding.

“This is the biggest single investment that I’ve ever seen over the course of my career in actually addressing the system versus putting more money into silos that are actually generating a lot of the problem,” McFee said at the announcement.

Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said the funding would tackle the root causes of homelessness, and also praised the fact the province was delivering on a request to provide enhanced plans when prisoners are discharged from corrections facilities.

In July, the city requested a hub where social workers, firefighters and peace officers could work together to reduce crime and address a spike in violence downtown, in nearby Chinatown and and on the transit system.

“These investments show our collaborative approach is working, and together we are making life better for struggling Edmontonians,” Sohi said at the announcement.

But NDP Critic for Seniors and Housing Lori Sigurdson said in a news release that Kenney’s government has cut funding for housing, noting buildings that could have opened months ago are sitting empty because the government hasn’t provided operational funding.

“The money announced today does not even begin to address the deeper need for permanent supportive housing, social housing and affordable housing in this province,” she said.

According to the province, over 6,400 Albertans were experiencing homelessness— including nearly 4,000 using emergency shelters or on the streets — as of Jan. 31.

Alberta saw more than 1,600 opioid-related deaths in 2021.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 1, 2022.

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Alberta

Five years later: Waterton Lakes National Park plan considers fire recovery

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Waterton – Like the land itself, a new management plan for Waterton Lakes National Park is marked by a powerful wildfire that tore through the southern Alberta park five years ago.

The 2022 plan, tabled in Parliament this summer, sets the park’s direction for the next decade. It includes dealing with climate change and invasive species and considers ways to strengthen Indigenous relationships and connect with Canadians.

The Kenow Wildfire, however, led to a major change from the previous plan. The fire burned more than 19,000 hectares — approximately 39 per cent — of the mountainous park in September 2017 and damaged many popular picnic areas, campgrounds and hiking trails.

“We’ve been pretty fortunate,” Parks Canada’s Locke Marshall, who’s the superintendent in Waterton, said in a recent interview. “We’ve had a lot of support from the federal government.”

Marshall said some of the damaged infrastructure was already being replaced before the fire, but other areas required a complete rebuild.

“There’s been a lot of work that has been done,” he said. “Initially, when the fire went through, our parkways were not available, so we had to work on them to get them ready to go.

“We lost our visitor centre, but we were already in plans to build a new one. Many of our picnic areas got damaged. We’ve done a lot of work on our trails.”

Some areas, such as roads and bridges around Red Rock Canyon, are still being rebuilt and the Crandell Mountain campground is still under construction, he said.

Mike Flannigan, a professor of wildland fire at Thompson Rivers University in B.C. and Canada Wildfire’s scientific director, said the fire also affected a lot of the park’s natural landscape.

“It burned a good chunk of the park with high-intensity severity,” he said. “The effect on the vegetation and the soil was severe because it was hot and dry.”

Flannigan said he’s interested to learn more about how the ecosystem has recovered in the park in the five years since the fire.

“I’m hoping Waterton uses this as an educational opportunity to inform the public about fires and regeneration and biodiversity and wildlife,” he said, noting there can be positive changes.

Marshall said Parks Canada has learned a lot and will continue to learn from the wildfire through various research projects.

“This has probably been an opportunity that we really haven’t seen in the past — and that’s just to see what the effects of a widespread fire, a fairly intense fire, has on a landscape and how the landscape itself recovers from it,” he said. “And also how that recovery may be affected by changes to the climate that we’ve seen in the last several decades.

“So, it’s a really good opportunity for science.”

The research, he said, could take decades to complete. He noted there’s already some visible changes in the forests.

“There has been a bit of a transformation,” he said. “A lot of the forests were predominantly conifers — pine, spruce, Douglas fir. In some places … we’re seeing more aspen trees, shrubs and in some places … because of a drier, warmer climate, we may see areas that were once forested will be open meadows now.

“There’s definitely a change in the landscape.”

The plan notes the fire also revealed more than 70 new archeological sites and expanded 170 known sites in the area that burned.

“It was a really good opportunity for some of that archeological work to be done,” Marshall said.

“We’ve been able to involve our nearby Indigenous communities, in particular members of the Blackfoot Confederacy — the Kainai and Piikani — in looking at that landscape and seeing it in the context of their traditional knowledge of the use of the place.”

Marshall said they continue to work with the communities to document the sites, which the plan suggests will be complete by 2025.

Overall, he said, the new management plan shows the agency’s ongoing commitment to protecting the park.

“It deals with the fire,” said Marshall, “but it also deals with our day-to-day operations related to visitation and how we manage the ecological and cultural integrity of the place.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 1, 2022.

— By Colette Derworiz in Calgary. Follow @cderworiz on Twitter.

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