Flashback - Farce mask: it's safe for only 20 minutes | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

Flashback - Farce mask: it's safe for only 20 minutes

Retailers who cash in on community fears about SARS by exaggerating the health benefits of surgical masks could face fines of up to $110,000.

NSW Fair Trading Minister Reba Meagher yesterday warned that distributors and traders could be prosecuted if it was suggested the masks offered unrealistic levels of protection from the disease.

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Health authorities have warned that surgical masks may not be an effective protection against the virus.

"Those masks are only effective so long as they are dry," said Professor Yvonne Cossart of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Sydney.

"As soon as they become saturated with the moisture in your breath they stop doing their job and pass on the droplets."

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