Did CDC Recommend Everyone Wear Tin Foil Face Masks To Prevent COVID-19?

Move over tin foil hats. Tin foil face masks are here!

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Did CDC recommend wearing tin foil masks
Image via Screengrab/Genesius Times

Claim

In April 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidelines that suggested the use of tin foil face masks may be effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

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Labeled Satire
Labeled Satire
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On April 6, 2021, Genesius Times published an article positing that leading health officials in the U.S. were recommending the use of tin foil face masks when in public, regardless of a person’s “health or ability to fight off pathogens.”

CDC recommends everyone now wear tin foil face masks while in public.

WASHINGTON — The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) readied new guidelines Monday on coronavirus protections including an innovative new tin foil face mask that protects the wearer from, “all the scary stuff out there.”

[…]

The “insulative electrical contrivance encircling the respiratory intakes” masks will be made available once the government ramps up production [of] these fashionable face masks made in the USA.

This item was not a factual recounting of real-life events. The article originated with a website that describes its output as being humorous or satirical in nature, as follows:

“We strive to provide the most up-to-date, accurate fake news on the Internet. Our team of journalists, hacks, and starving writers only want one thing: to make you laugh and/or cry.”

Not to mention, the satire publication’s slogan reads, “The most reliable source of fake news on the planet.” (For background, here is why we sometimes write about satire/humor.)

Real guidelines published by the CDC suggest that anyone over the age of two should wear a cloth mask any time they are in a public setting or on public transportation, as well as when visiting with people who do not live in the same household.

“Masks are a simple barrier to help prevent your respiratory droplets from reaching others. Studies show that masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth,” wrote the health agency. “You should wear a mask, even if you do not feel sick.”

A screenshot of the story was shared to Reddit on April 11 with a comment that read, “I want to say this is sarcasm but I just can’t convince myself for some reason.” A comment that accompanied a screenshot of the story also alluded to a supposed tin foil shortage, saying that “they took it off the market years ago because it’s so much more effective than aluminum for blocking the waves.” It’s unclear who “they” refers to, but a look at the history of tin foil production and use in the U.S. reveals that in the early part of the 20th-century, most household foil products in the nation were made of tin. In 1919, the U.S. Foil Company was founded to manufacture tin foil for cigarette packaging. The company, which later became the Reynolds Metal Company, eventually introduced aluminum to the mix — a much cheaper, lighter, and more durable metal. But aluminum foil really got its start during World War Two when the U.S. government mounted scrap metal drives to shortages.

“With the onset of World War II, aluminum became a key strategic metal. Primary uses of aluminum included the construction of aircraft frames, ship infrastructure, radar chaff and millions of mess kits,” wrote The Aluminum Association. “Following WWII, American industry shifted gears toward consumer products manufacturing.”

These aluminum products included the “iconic” white-enamel and aluminum-frame washers and dryers of the 1950s and the two-piece aluminum beer cans of the 1960s — and of course, aluminum foil. In the decades that follow, aluminum foil has been a staple in both the commercial and household sectors, and that trend isn’t expected to dissipate anytime soon. Recent market analysis revealed that there is no factual basis in this claim. In fact, BusinessWire reported in December 2020 that the global aluminum foil packaging market grew at a rate of about 5% between 2014 and 2019. And projections made by the publisher expect the global aluminum foil packaging market to “continue its moderate growth during the next five years.”

To wrap it up, there is also no evidence to suggest that either tin or aluminum foil hats block any sort of “waves” from entering one’s brain.

Recent Updates
  1. Correction [April 13, 2021]: A previous version of this article mistakenly confused tin foil with aluminum foil.
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