Mask Challenge Revisited

Back in 2017, there was an effort by Memes for Inconvenient Disabilities to get people to wear a mask to see what it was like to be a human canary.

Only one person we know of took the challenge, but she did not give permission to share her incredible insights from her experience.

I’ve discovered that Fast Company did their own version of the Mask Challenge and here’s their video:



At some point, Human Canaries (people with MCS/ES and others) will HAVE to  wear a mask to leave home (because not wearing one causes too many disabling symptoms that are hard to recover from), even just  to take out the garbage, due to the products the neighbourhood uses, or for grocery shopping or going out for medical care, or even in home (if they can’t afford something other than death inducing  multi-unit housing) when the neighbours are using toxic products.

As you can see in the video, this is not something people would do just for the heck of it, no matter how attractive a manufacturer could make a mask appear.

The other issue is that most of the materials used are toxic or are made with toxic chemicals, so many Human Canaries will not be able to wear them against their skin.

Also, the masks in the video are nuisance level masks, not respirators with proper cartridges to really filter out most pollutants.

As more people become “sensitive” to pollution and chemicals, the answer is NOT making more masks, (or air purification machines), it’s reducing all the everyday sources, like fragranced products and other pollution!


Stop the source!
People are not designed to be subjected to harmful pollutants 24/7!



If you go to the you tube link, some of the comments there are insightful too.


13 responses to “Mask Challenge Revisited

  1. Also if you are not white, your experience is um…. different. Not only are you labeled contagious but people act like you are about to rob/do something illegal. There’s a safety and social stigma that no one thinks about.

    • Thank you for mentioning this!

      As a white person wearing a mask, I might be ridiculed and given a hard time, but I don’t have to worry about being physically assaulted (or worse) due to using an assistive device (which masks are for us).

      Society has a long way to go to lose all the isms…

  2. We need a mask that us wearable. One that you do not have to breath in the air you just exhaled. What are our choices?

  3. I use this mask
    with cartridges model number 815366 which is what was suggested to me by the company a few years ago when I explained I needed to block out multiple chemicals

    Last time I purchased them they were on sale at fastenal

    A few months ago they were difficult to find but the problem seems to be fixed now. I would suggest have a few ahead if you can to save the stress of not being able to find them. I tried other masks and other filters this seems to be the best choice for me at this time.

  4. I am white and I have been told by small store owners my coming in wearing a mask made them wonder what I was up to and they were initially afraid… seems I only have to explain it to them once .. so far anyway and we are good after that. I have had all sorts of comments and at times have become an accidental mcs spoke person as people are curious… I am not always interested or up to explaining the mask and the situation but sometimes I do… all depends on what my state it. I have not found any of the masks I have tried to be 100% at keeping chemicals out 100% of the time it could be I am using the cartridges longer than I should to. They are good for 30- 40 hours if your going to a wedding one event can take almost the entire cartridge time. Not having a back cartridge is a big problem so try to keep one handy. Either way I have been asked by many many people what is going on in stores and many other places. People are not completely dense and can sort out by my demeanor when I am not up to being questioned, usually.
    I am not trying to play down further challenges faces by people of colour who have to wear a mask I am just saying it is an unusual thing to see a person wearing a mask in stores ect people react in different ways to seeing such a thing. My heart goes out to you having to face risk of assault on top of all these other challenges.
    At one point I read about a purposed advertising campaign to make people away of MCS causes and our plight… if I am not mistaken I read about it on sstp…. but I can’t be sure. I don’t know what is holding that campaign up but sure would be nice to have people understand what is going on without having to answer so many questions or worry that I am in some way contaminated and going to infect their children … which has also happened.
    What happened to the add campaign? Does anyone know?

    While I am asking questions what is up with the task force that was going to recommend treatment covered by OHIP?
    Sure would love to receive some good news about all of that… I wonder too if there is any way at all of becoming completely well? or is this it for the rest of my life… no answer for that one I guess.

    • In response to the question regarding the task force, (off topic for this post) the final report was released a month ago, but there isn’t much news or follow-up after that. You could contact MEAO to get on their mailing list, or become a member. They share info as it becomes available.

      Re becoming completely well? No, haven’t heard that happen, it’s not possible in this world… but some people do improve a lot, enough to live a somewhat ‘normal’ life, while having to still manage their lives to prevent re-occurrence, but it all depends on what went wrong, how it was caused, when in one’s life it happened, and what access one has to things that help heal and ability to avoid exposures during the healing process… For most people, these things do not line up early enough, if at all… We need some systemic changes…

  5. PS I have yet to talk to one person who has said oh MCS I heard of that or read about that or that knows anything about it… a couple of people said they had heard of or knew another person who had this vague disorder but they never knew their names or what became of them … because I always ask I would like to talk to other who have this to see what how they are managing.

  6. I just went back and watched the video sorry for the multiple comments this is how my brain works.
    My question is this… Do others here with MCS use these sort of masks? From what I found looking for advice on a mask when I first came here everyone on the mask page was wearing a half face respirator or a full face respirator.
    Are these masks in the video good enough to keep us from reacting when we are shopping ect? I don’t think they would be but I could be wrong. I don’t want to risk it without some input.

    The other things that differ between us the lady in the video would be she can wash her hair with products that make it look good and she has on make up .. two things that I cannot do that would make my appearance more sociably acceptable. As for comfort I am sure the masks she tested are not as hot as the ones we wear… quite sure of that one.

    So how about it are these masks as good as the ones I am seeing MCS people wearing on this site who has tried them?

    • The woman in that video does not have MCS. She somehow ended up doing a story on wearing masks, which is what the MCS #MaskChallenge was about the other year… A coincidence? UN Environment also had a #MaskChallenge on social media this year… Seems they’ve basically taken our ideas and run with them, without mentioning MCS…

  7. Interesting to revisit this in August 2020, living in a US State with a State-wide mandatory Public Health Order to wear a mask at all times when in public, and most businesses that are still open will not let you in if you are NOT wearing a mask.

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