New York: New research findings contradict statements linking wearing face masks to carbon dioxide poisoning by trapping CO2.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the wearing of face masks has become a highly political issue with some individuals falsely claiming that wearing face masks may be putting people’s health at risk.
The study published in the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society shows otherwise.
“We show that the effects are minimal at most even in people with very severe lung impairment,” said study author Michael Campos from the University of Miami in the US.
The researchers assessed problems with gas exchange, that is, changes in oxygen level or carbon dioxide levels in healthy individuals as well as veterans with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD before and while using surgical masks.
People with COPD, according to the US ATS Patient Education Fact Sheet on the disease, “must work harder to breathe, which can lead to shortness of breath and/or feeling tired.”
“Dyspnea, the feeling of shortness of breath, felt with masks by some is not synonymous of alterations in gas exchange. It likely occurs from the restriction of airflow with the mask in particular when higher ventilation is needed (on exertion),” Campos explained.
“If you’re walking briskly up an incline, for example, you may experience feelings of breathlessness,” Campos added.
An overly tight mask may also increase the feeling of breathlessness. The solution is simply to slow down or remove the mask if you are at a safe distance from other people.
The researchers stressed the importance of wearing a face mask to prevent Covid-19 infection. If a surgical mask is not available, a cloth mask with at least two layers is recommended by the CDC.
Patients with lung disease, in particular, should avoid getting infected and should wear a face mask, which, along with handwashing and social distancing, is proven to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection, the authors wrote.
The impetus for the study came after individuals made inflammatory comments, namely that wearing masks were putting lives at risk and finding out that no data on the effects of surgical masks on gas exchange was available.