Mask Wearing and Oxygen Levels

You may have heard reports recently about the effects of respirator masks on people who wear them all day. They paint a scary picture, one that creates an impossible choice: Leave everyone open to exposure or put everyone at risk of passing out from low oxygen levels. But it’s important to get all the facts before throwing away those masks.

Some people have been promoting claims that lengthy mask use can reduce oxygen levels, making them a potential hazard for people wearing them all day. It's possible that these reports originated from politically motivated sources. But being well and keeping those around us well is not a political act. So let's look at the facts.

An Alarmist Report

In early May, a report in a Nigerian ezine, Vanguard, warned that all-day use of N95 respirators could be dangerous. In the report, Dr. Dennis A. Castro B. claimed that the masks may cause users to breathe in excessive amounts of carbon dioxide, leading to intoxication, fatigue and dangerously high levels of lactic acid building in the body. In his statement, the doctor recommended users lift their masks every 10 minutes to clear out stale air.

But a report in Scientific American indicates that changes have been made to N95 respirators to eliminate these challenges and better protect nurses and others in need of the best COVID-19 protection.

N95 Respirators and Oxygen Levels

An N95 respirator mask is designed to protect healthcare workers when they enter a room where an infected person has been potentially contaminating the air. According to one study, physical exertion while wearing an N95 respirator can be more taxing on the body, but not to the extremes described by Dr. Castro B.

People with lung conditions should definitely be careful about using such a restrictive face covering. Most healthy people, including pregnant nurses, are safe to use N95 respirator masks for hours at a time without worry of any physical harm.

Even more importantly, no one is asking the general public to use such restrictive masks. The CDC recommends using a simple cloth covering — even a folded bandana will work — for everyday interactions outside the home, along with 6-feet of social distancing. A cloth mask is nothing like the tight-fitting, body-taxing N95 respirators making headlines. PolitiFact has investigated cloth face covers and deemed them perfectly safe in most cases. Just make sure not to use any kind of face cover on children younger than 2, anyone in severe respiratory distress or anyone who’s fallen unconscious.

Remember, we’re wearing masks to protect other people from our germs, not the other way around. A cloth mask is designed to reduce what each of us might be shedding when we breathe, talk, cough or sneeze. COVID-19 has a high asymptomatic transmission rate, so people who assume they’re healthy enough to go without a face covering can be a real danger to others.

Some of the reports going around are alarming, but that doesn’t mean there’s any reason to panic and abandon covering your face altogether. We owe it to our communities to do our best by one another. If we follow the CDC’s recommendations, we can safely and effectively help reduce the pandemic’s spread.

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8/3/2020 7:00:00 AM
Wellness Editor
Written by Wellness Editor
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When was this article written? You claim that asymptomatic people easily pass on a virus. But as of July or late June, they said asymptomatic people 'rarely' pass it on. So you're passing misinformation, and misinformation that can harm people who keep wearing masks when they aren't needed. If you're not coughing and hacking on people you're highly unlikely to be spreading anything.
Posted by Ruby
1. My sister developed asthma as a direct consequence of wearing a mask and landed in ER. The connection was clear.

2. We're told masks are safe because they're porous--so if they're porous how are they protecting against these miniscule germs that we're told are so very small?

3. Source? We have multiple doctors saying these masks CAN be harmful. We have many people telling us they have suffered from the masks. One man has blacked out while driving and two boys are reported to have died in China after being forced to run in gym class wearing masks. Your source is one Scientific American article and ... POLITIFACT???? Politifact is supposed to be a reputable medical source? Sorry, no.

This is exactly why people MUST be allowed to do their own research, compare the conflicting information being given by 'experts' and make their own decisions about things that impact their health.

If you believe a masks lets air in but keeps germs out, please wear one. Nobody has the right to force anyone to cover the very breath of life.
Posted by ShyAnne
I have COPD and wearing a mask makes it hard for me to I go without or just hold it over my mouth and nose when necessary in a store. What else can I do?
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Posted by Sharon Wayne
I am in the medical field and I can assure you that wearing any type of mask cause health problems. You are breathing you own exhaled air back in and you are lowering your resistance to all virus. I feel that the information you gave is very misleading and your only concern is selling your products. We have had to much misleading and incorrect information thrown at us. How sad!!!
Posted by Linda
I am an older person and I cannot wear these masks much more than to go get some Groceries. I can't wear them to hike in, I can't wear them to walk 2 miles a day . I can't wear them any more than necessary. I have also talked to the People in the Grocery Store, they can't breath easy either. Our Mayor is going to fine us for not wearing them every where out side of our property. This is against my Rights as a Citizen is being taken away. We have not heard that we can take them off outside of our Property. Where I walk is in the Country. Squirrels and Sage Brush doesn't care if I don't wear a mask. So I will wear one only when I have to .
Posted by Audrey
For my personal experience the wearing of a mask does make me sick. Also many people that I know that wear a mask at work also say the same thing. Another out of touch with the real world post from the experts
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