No, Wearing a Mask Is Not Dangerous

Mask myths are on the rise, mixing with critical advice and facts we all need to know in order to wear them responsibly. Many of these myths are directly related to conspiracy theories, which disintegrate when you take a minute to think about them , but they still circulate because they seem like they might be true. So let’s take a look at a few myths and truths.

Myth: Masks make you breathe too much carbon dioxide (or not enough oxygen)

The air contains a mixture of gases. This is mainly nitrogen (which our body does not use at all) with small amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide. The cells in our body need oxygen; with each breath we use some oxygen and return some carbon dioxide.

If you have been stuck in a confined space for a long time, yes, you could see an increase in the level of carbon dioxide in that space. This is why you do not allow children to put plastic bags over their heads. But there are viral reports that say high carbon dioxide levels or hypercapnia are a common consequence of wearing a mask and can cause drowsiness or confusion.

But the mask is not a plastic bag. The tiny amounts of carbon dioxide you breathe out are not captured by a tissue mask or surgical mask. N95 masks, if properly fitted and tight to the face, can sometimes make it difficult for people with certain medical conditions to breathe – but this is not due to a build-up of carbon dioxide. This is due to the physical exertion associated with breathing heavily in order to get enough air through the mask material. Even cloth or surgical masks can sometimes be uncomfortable when wet or warm from breathing. But this is not a health risk.

We’ve written about this before , but just for added perspective, I asked Saskia Popescu, an infection prevention specialist, who recently answered readers’ questions about the mask if hypercapnia is a problem for the general public or the hospital staff she works with. “Not at all,” she said. “I have healthcare professionals who wear the N95 all day,” she said. “They don’t face these problems. So I don’t quite understand where [the concern about hypercapnia] comes from. ”

Myth: You can get sick by breathing exhaled viruses.

This is strange. This became known in Plandemic , where it was claimed that the mask “activates” the viruses you breathe out. And then I saw another viral post claiming that the mask redirects viruses from exhaled air into the nose, where they can enter the brain. HM?

Not only is this pointless, but it also suggests that you are breathing out the COVID-19 virus. If so, you are already sick, then how can a mask pose an additional danger to you?

But just in case, I asked Popescu about it. Maybe there was some truth in the myth? Can masks somehow aggravate viral diseases?

“This is not how it works. I mean, I’m sorry, I don’t know how else to say it, but that’s not how it works, “she said.

Myth: masks don’t block viruses.

There are very, very few viruses. Not just microscopic, but so small that ordinary microscopes cannot see them at all.

The weave on the mask is loose enough that you can often see through it. It is clear that this will not prevent viruses from entering separately. I have heard people compare this phenomenon to “bees through a chain fence.” But on the basis of this, experts in the fight against masks come to the conclusion that this is all the information necessary in order to say that a mask cannot stop the virus.

But this is not an accurate description of what is happening. Viruses don’t fly like bees. The virus that causes COVID-19 leaves our body with respiratory droplets. Imagine someone sneezing in sunlight. You would see millions of tiny bits of mucus / saliva / god knows what flickering as they flew forward and softly hit the ground. These are respiratory drops.

Make cloth masks stop – drip. And when you put on the mask right in front of your mouth and nose, it stops most of them. (Masks are most effective when worn by an infected person, and are recommended to everyone because you can get infected and spread the virus without feeling bad.)

So the best analogy might be the one that compares masks to pants : if someone pees on your leg and neither of you is wearing pants, you will get wet. But if the pissing person is wearing pants, most of the urine will soak in his own pants and not get to you.

(Instead of bees through a chain-link fence, sometimes people ask how a mask can stop viruses when the laundry doesn’t stop farting. Well, the molecules that carry the smell of fart are small — smaller than a virus — and they do soar in the air without getting stuck so they can flow freely through your underwear to someone’s nose, where you can claim that whoever sensed it did it.)

Truth: masks do not necessarily protect you from other people’s viruses

This is true, but I include it on the list because it is often discussed along with other myths. You are not wearing a mask for protection. Masks are best at minimizing (rather than completely stopping) the spread of germs from the wearer .

My mask protects you; your mask protects me.

Therefore, in order to wear a mask responsibly, you need to be aware of its limitations. Wearing a mask will not protect you from a virus that you may encounter if someone breathes out small droplets next to you or if you are in a confined space where many people are singing or screaming. However, wearing it is probably better than nothing.

The closer you are to the person spewing the droplets, the more likely they will be larger, so masks may protect you a bit if you are caring for a loved one who is sick. But masks do not replace other advanced techniques such as physical distancing. Keep your distance and wear a mask and you will do your best to protect others.

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