Multiple videos are being shared on social media for quite some time now with a claim that face masks contain black worms and that wearing them would lead to infections as those worms would enter the human body. Let’s fact-check this claim.
Claim: Face Masks contain black worms
Fact: The worm-like things are not living organisms. They are harmless textile fibres that sometimes move due to static electricity. The movement can also happen because of the moisture absorbed from human breath or water. Hence the claim is FALSE.
Upon searching on Google about the black objects moving around in a face mask, an article in the Health Desk about fibres moving around in COVID-19 test swabs was found. Public health experts at the Meedan Health Desk had written an article explaining the movement of fibres in the COVID-19 test swabs. They even mentioned that the videos circulating online claiming that fibres on face masks cause disease have “no scientific basis”. “Any movement of fibres from face masks can be attributed primarily to moisture”. The video does not show black worms but textile fibres. “
“Any strands in face masks that appear to be moving on their own under a microscope are regular, textile fibres that make up a large portion of house dust.” The worm-like things are not living organisms. They are harmless textile fibres that sometimes move due to static electricity. The movement can also happen because of the moisture absorbed from human breath or water.
A YouTube channel named Microbehunter show, in a video, explains that the black objects are not worms but textile fibres from clothing. Thousands of such fibres are isolated and made to move around under the microscope.
When a similar claim was viral in April 2021, AFP had written a fact-check article debunking it. In the article, Jana Nebesarova, Assistant Professor at the electron microscopy laboratory at the Biological Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences, was quoted saying: “The mask or a (swab for a Covid-19) test can contain threads that either got there during the manufacturing process or during their handling just before they were about to be used. In any event, they are not dangerous for a healthy person; this is stuff we breathe in every single day and our ciliated epithelium, which lines our respiratory system, knows how to deal with these alien microscopic particles very well.”
To sum it up, masks do not contain worms; they are synthetic fibre.