Will I think it's worth wearing an N95 mask on airplanes in August 2024?
Jul 7

I wear them in places with significantly increased risk, like the underground or crowded rooms with no air flow.

Should I wear them on a plane to be consistent?

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So currently I probably do wear them on the ground. But maybe reading this I won't care so much about wearing them in the ari.

bought Ṁ5 of YES

While the plane is in the air, the air circulation should reduce risk of infection, but while on the ground they often turn off the ventilation. Much more shared air, CO2 rises fast, and more risk of infection. I think it's definitely worth wearing a mask when the plane is on the ground.

For a 6h flight on a medium sized plane when people have about a 1% chance of covid, I'd guess it's worth about a 1/1000 chance of catching covid, so probably substantially less bad than other places you are thinking of.

(I've been treating 1/1k chance as about as bad as losing an hour of life—i.e. covid is a 1/500 reduction in value of rest of life, which I'm treating as ~500k hours—but I think you disagree with me about the costs.)

Microcovid thinks the mostly silent vs. loud and being on a plane make a huge difference:

calc for plane: https://www.microcovid.org/?casesPastWeek=450&distance=tenFt&duration=360&interaction=oneTime&personCount=50&positiveCasePercentage=5&riskProfile=average&scenarioName=custom&setting=plane&theirMask=none&topLocation=US_01&voice=silent&yourMask=none&yourVaccineDoses=3&yourVaccineType=moderna

calc for crowded 4h loud party (>100x worse): https://www.microcovid.org/?casesPastWeek=450&distance=tenFt&duration=240&interaction=oneTime&personCount=80&positiveCasePercentage=5&riskProfile=average&scenarioName=custom&setting=indoor&theirMask=none&topLocation=US_01&voice=loud&yourMask=none&yourVaccineDoses=3&yourVaccineType=moderna

(Note that often these assumptions don't hold: e.g. co-passengers are coughing aggressively vs. being silent)

bought Ṁ100 of NO

(So I think you won't if you are consistent with your current behavior, but you might often if you come around to agreeing with my evaluation of the harms)

@KatjaGrace it seems like the calculation comes out to it being equal to 0.86h of life lost, and thus if wearing an N95 mask is more than a 14.3% quality of life reduction for the 6h flight it doesn't make sense?

@CodeandSolder quality of life on a plane flight is already pretty low, so the added discomfort of the mask is trivial imho

predicts NO

@Odoacre I guess that's a personal judgement, for me wearing a well fitting N95 mask is certainly more than 15% QOL reduction, especially for 6 continuous hours, but I also don't mind sitting on planes that much so 🤷

Eh. After 15 minutes I don't even notice it anymore. But my point is that your 15% figure should be discounted, since 6 hours alone on a noisy crowded plane is not equivalent to, say 6 hours of quality time with your partner or your kids.

And since we are in this math life ev calculation mode, you should also calculate the benefit others receive from you wearing the mask in case you already have covid and multiply that for all passengers, or alternatively the benefit you receive from each additional other passenger wearing a mask.

predicts NO

@CodeandSolder That's right, if by 'quality of life' you mean 'value of life', but I think it's easy to conflate value of life and enjoyability of life under 'quality of life'. Yet they are pretty different, e.g. any work you do counts under value but not enjoyment. To get around this, I find it easier to think 'would I rather wear a mask or cancel 0.86 hours after the plane flight?' and the answer for me is generally to wear a mask, though probably not in all cases.