The Unintended Consequences of Masks and Voting Rules: Ensuring Safety and Clarity

Reg B

Hatched by Reg B

Sep 19, 2023

3 min read


The Unintended Consequences of Masks and Voting Rules: Ensuring Safety and Clarity


In recent times, two separate studies have raised concerns about the unintended consequences of certain practices. One study suggests that wearing N95 masks for extended periods may expose wearers to toxic chemicals, while another highlights the confusion surrounding voice voting rules. Both issues have implications for public health and democratic processes. In this article, we will explore the findings of these studies and discuss actionable advice to address these concerns.

The Mask Dilemma:

According to a study conducted by researchers from Jeonbuk National University in South Korea, disposable medical-grade masks release toxic volatile organic compounds (TVOCs) at levels eight times higher than the recommended safety limit. Inhaling TVOCs has been associated with health problems like headaches, nausea, and even organ damage and cancer with prolonged exposure. Interestingly, the study also found that cloth masks had significantly fewer TVOCs compared to disposable masks, with a difference of up to 14 times. This raises questions about the safety of wearing masks for extended periods and the need to explore alternative options.

The Voice Voting Confusion:

In another development, voice voting rules have caused mass confusion, particularly regarding the use of ticks and crosses to indicate voting preferences. The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) Commissioner, Tom Rogers, clarified that while a tick would be accepted as a formal vote for "yes," a cross would not be accepted as a formal vote for "no." This decision has been met with skepticism, with critics arguing that it favors the "Yes" campaign and undermines the democratic process. The lack of clarity in the rules has led to accusations of dodgy practices and erodes trust in the voting system.

Connecting the Dots:

Although seemingly unrelated, both the mask study and the voice voting confusion highlight the need for clear guidelines and transparency in public health and democratic processes. In both cases, the lack of clarity and potential biases can have far-reaching consequences on the well-being of individuals and the integrity of democratic decision-making.

Addressing the Concerns:

To ensure the safety of mask-wearing and the clarity of voting procedures, three actionable advice can be considered:

  • 1. Diversify mask options: Given the potential health risks associated with disposable masks, it is crucial to explore alternative options. Encouraging the use of cloth masks, which have been found to release fewer TVOCs, can mitigate exposure to toxic chemicals. Additionally, promoting the use of masks made from organic and sustainable materials can further reduce potential harm.
  • 2. Transparent voting rules: To avoid confusion and accusations of bias, it is essential for electoral commissions to establish clear and unambiguous voting rules. Engaging with experts, soliciting public input, and conducting pilot programs can help refine and improve voting procedures. Transparency and fairness should be the guiding principles in the development and implementation of voting rules.
  • 3. Public education and awareness: In both cases, raising awareness about the potential risks of prolonged mask-wearing and the importance of understanding voting procedures is crucial. Providing accessible information, conducting public campaigns, and engaging with communities can empower individuals to make informed choices about their health and exercise their democratic rights.


The studies on mask safety and the confusion surrounding voice voting rules highlight the need for continuous evaluation and improvement of practices that impact public health and democratic processes. By diversifying mask options, establishing transparent voting rules, and promoting public education and awareness, we can strive for safer and more inclusive societies. It is essential to prioritize the well-being of individuals and uphold the principles of fairness and transparency in all aspects of public life.

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