What you don’t know, can hurt you

Once upon a time, (that’s as good a beginning as any, right?) there was a group of people who were scared. Some of them were even terrified. So filled with trepidation, these people we would do anything to feel safe. Even if the safety they found, actually hurt.
The “invisible enemy” has captured our nation’s imagination. We’re waging war on an “evil” we can’t see. So what difference does it make if our “weapons of war” don’t actually help, as long as we can see them? If we can see them, then we are doing something, right? Visual confirmation of our defense mechanism means we are protected from the lurking, microscopic ninjas, just waiting to pounce. However, we can’t very well see the masks on our own faces, so everyone around us must wear them too. Only when everyone agrees, or at least appears to agree, can we relax, finally knowing that we are secure. Most of all, don’t question the possible nuclear fallout, only trust that this weapon will win the war.

Masks can’t be bad for us, right? Doctors and nurses don’t want to hurt people, so they wouldn’t recommend something that is bad. What if doctors and nurses are just like the rest of us though? What if they are too busy to check if what they are told is true? (Searching and reading medical research studies takes time!) What if, just like us, they have to agree with masking, or risk losing their job? What if just like us, they are afraid? What if they read this study (DOI: 10.1001/jama.2009.1466) showing that n95 masks worn for 6-8 hours are slightly better than surgical masks because only 21% of nurses wearing n95s contracted the flu but didn’t read this study (DOI: 10.7861/clinmedicine.17-6-484) showing that overall health care workers, during flu season, generally not wearing masks, become sick only 4.5% of the time? And while the CDC has produced a lengthy document claiming masks are fabulous at protecting people, digging into their own data shows the opposite. So can masks be useful?

Yes, masks may be acceptable for many, for limited hours, in controlled conditions, like in a surgical suite with supplemental oxygen, if your intent it to prevent the spreading of bodily fluids during surgery. A mask is acceptable when used following the guidelines set in place in 1998 by OSHA. The first laws on the issue of face masks were made in 1919 by the U.S. Bureau of Mines. This was done to address the “high fatality rate of mineworkers”. Face masks were killing people, so the government began creating laws to regulate their use. (https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/Respiratory-Protection-history.html)

OSHA’s laws and regulations can be read here: https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.134
or here: https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/29/1910.134 (this one is easier to read, IMHO)
The OSHA Q and A document from 1998 can be read here: https://www.osha.gov/qna.pdf
The 2015 fit test intake form can be seen here https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3789info.pdf

So, are face masks dangerous? The shortest answer is, yes. A slightly longer answer is, it depends on the person and the situation. The danger associated with wearing a face mask is dependent upon the person wearing it, the environment they are wearing it in, and the length of time the face mask is being worn. Whether or not face masks are actually effective at stopping one of the world’s smallest rNA viruses is a topic for another post.

What are the dangers of wearing a face mask?
(This list is a summary of the information from all of the links below. Keep reading if you want to get to the pubmed articles.)
difficulty breathing
atopic dermatitis
respiratory acidosis
mental and emotional regression in children
bacterial lung infection
increased rate of viral infection and influenza-like illnesses (ili)
cardio-pulmonary overload
renal overload
accidental suffocation
disruption of thermoregulation
disruption of oxygen/carbon dioxide ratio
disruption of body pH
disruption of brain systems that regulate breathing
false sense of security, resulting in dangerous behaviors
exacerbation of pre-existing health conditions
permanent brain damage
increased cancer growth

Note, the longer masks are worn, the more severe the risks and more severe the dangers.

If nothing else, the great face mask debate has caused us to lose compassion for one another. Rather than listening to our friends and our bodies we are now requiring everyone to conform regardless of their individual needs. Asthma? No one cares. Rape or Assault victim? No one cares. PTSD? COPD? No one cares. Suicidal? Put on a mask so that no one can see you. Actual, current victim of human trafficking? We don’t care. Wear a mask people! That’s the most important thing. Try to get a medical exemption for school for your child who has severe asthma and you’ll see just how much people care about the needs of the individual. (https://www.naplesnews.com/story/life/2020/07/21/masks-make-us-safe-but-sometimes-miserable-too/5417277002/)

I’ll keep adding to the list as I get more information. The following is organized into three categories.
1. Medical research with links to the articles and relevant quotes.
2. News articles on the topic.
3. YouTube videos from experts in the field of PPE, or real life examples (sitting with a mask on, while measuring bodily functions). Okay, well, I had more of these, but they’ve been removed “for violating community standards”… so now there’s just the one.

1. Medical Research:

“carbon dioxide and oxygen levels were significantly above and below, respectively, the ambient workplace standards, and elevated P(CO2) is a possibility” – after 1 hour of use, in people who have already passed an OSHA fit test

“significant health risks and tax various physiological systems especially pulmonary, circulatory and immune systems. Exercising with facemasks may reduce available Oxygen and increase air trapping preventing substantial carbon dioxide exchange. The hypercapnic hypoxia may potentially increase acidic environment, cardiac overload, anaerobic metabolism and renal overload, which may substantially aggravate the underlying pathology of established chronic diseases”

Mild to moderate hypercapnia may cause permanent cognitive dysfunction (brain damage) in up to 46% of patients

“Our study revealed a decrease in the oxygen saturation of arterial pulsations (SpO2) and a slight increase in pulse rates compared to preoperative values in all surgeon groups.” Specifically, the Oxygen saturation rate decreased steadily from a maximum of 99 to a minimum of 93. The longer the mask was worn, the lower the oxygen saturation in the surgeon’s blood. The limit of the study was 6 hours, and it was at that point that it had decreased to 93. Anything under 95 is considered low.

“Out of 158 respondents, 128 (81.0%) respondents developed de novo PPE-associated headaches”
“Since COVID-19 outbreak, 42/46 (91.3%) of respondents with pre-existing headache diagnosis either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that the increased PPE usage had affected the control of their background headaches, which affected their level of work performance.”

“the microclimates of the facemasks, …have profound influences on heart rate and thermal stress and subjective perception of discomfort”

“The use of protective facemasks (PFMs) negatively impacts respiratory and dermal mechanisms of human thermoregulation through impairment of convection, evaporation, and radiation processes”

“There must be pathophysiological reason why [the] nasal cavity, oral cavity, pharyngeal cavity and upper airways [have] lower temperature than core body temperature. Henceforth, facemasks’ “therapeutic” role against SARS-CoV-2 must be explored because personal “therapeutic” environments may get created under facemasks due to rebreathing of ~95°F “hot” and ~80% “humid” exhalations”

“The rates of all infection outcomes were highest in the cloth mask arm, with the rate of ILI statistically significantly higher in the cloth mask arm (relative risk (RR)=13.00, 95% CI 1.69 to 100.07) compared with the medical mask arm. Cloth masks also had significantly higher rates of ILI compared with the control arm. An analysis by mask use showed ILI (RR=6.64, 95% CI 1.45 to 28.65) and laboratory-confirmed virus (RR=1.72, 95% CI 1.01 to 2.94) were significantly higher in the cloth masks group compared with the medical masks group. Penetration of cloth masks by particles was almost 97% and medical masks 44%.”
“Conclusions: This study is the first RCT of cloth masks, and the results caution against the use of cloth masks. This is an important finding to inform occupational health and safety. Moisture retention, reuse of cloth masks and poor filtration may result in increased risk of infection”

“The rate of Clinical Respiratory Illness (CRI) was highest in the medical mask arm (98 of 572; 17%), followed by the targeted N95 arm (61 of 516; 11.8%), and the N95 arm (42 of 581; 7.2%) (P < 0.05). Bacterial respiratory tract colonization in subjects with CRI was highest in the medical mask arm (14.7%; 84 of 572), followed by the targeted N95 arm (10.1%; 52 of 516), and lowest in the N95 arm (6.2%; 36 of 581) (P = 0.02).”

Nurses wearing surgical masks were infected by the flu 22% of the time and 21% of the time when wearing an n95 mask, when wearing either the surgical mask or the n95 mask for periods of 6-8 hours.
Average illness rate for health care workers is 4.5%

“Overall virus positivity rate was 10.1% (15/148). Commonly isolated viruses from masks samples were adenovirus (n = 7), bocavirus (n = 2), respiratory syncytial virus (n = 2) and influenza virus (n = 2). Virus positivity was significantly higher in masks samples worn for > 6 h (14.1%, 14/99 versus 1.2%, 1/49, OR 7.9, 95% CI 1.01–61.99) and in samples used by participants who examined > 25 patients per day (16.9%, 12/71 versus 3.9%, 3/77, OR 5.02, 95% CI 1.35–18.60). Most of the participants (83.8%, 124/148) reported at least one problem associated with mask use. Commonly reported problems were pressure on face (16.9%, 25/148), breathing difficulty (12.2%, 18/148), discomfort (9.5% 14/148), trouble communicating with the patient (7.4%, 11/148) and headache (6.1%, 9/148).”

A systemic review of 3 studies:
1) Facemasks vs. No mask: “more suggestive of harm than benefit. Conclusion: [This was] the largest and most pragmatic trial (which informs on how facemasks will perform in the real world) assessing the benefit of facemasks vs no mask is suggestive of more harm than benefit”
2) Surgical mask and N95 mask: “The evidence from this trial in fact supports more that the N95 respirator might be associated with a small amount of harm.”
3) Surgical mask vs cloth mask: “Overwhelmingly suggests harm as opposed to benefit”

“masks enabled strong jets of air to escape from the back and sides, researchers found” ‘giving people a false sense of security’

“With the use of such masks the exhaled, potentially infectious air is expelled under a greater pressure than normal and may thus reach greater distances from the patient compared with the case of natural breathing (Hui et al. 2006a,b, 2007, 2009; Ip et al. 2007).”

“Humans are extremely sensitive to carbon dioxide. The pathway for this effect involves pH changes (2) detected by the neurons of the ventral respiratory group.” Very interesting study of brain response to hypercapnia. (Before you jump on the “masks can’t cause hypercapnia” bandwagon, I urge you to look up the symptoms and ask the people around you wearing masks if they have experienced any of the symptoms.)
The same study also has this information, “The majority of subjects reported breathlessness in the CO2 trials.” The CO2 trials utilized a 5% CO2 mixture, yet most medical sources indicate that 10% CO2 is where “the danger zone” begins, as indicated in this health.com article [https://www.health.com/condition/infectious-diseases/coronavirus/does-wearing-face-mask-increase-co2-levels]

“Regions with solid tumors experience mild to severe oxygen deprivation… [and] are associated with altered cellular metabolism [the cancer grows faster], as well as increased resistance to radiation and chemotherapy.” “hypoxia, defined as reduced O2 levels, occurs in a variety of pathological conditions, including stroke, tissue ischemia (death), inflammation, and the growth of solid tumors.”
DOI: 10.1038/nrc2540

2. News Articles:
“Regression [in children] is a normal part of childhood development, but in the age COVID-19, experts say it’s happening in a vast and more widespread way than normal.”

“”the wide use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not supported by current evidence and carries uncertainties and critical risks.”
“children …should not wear masks – accidental suffocation and difficulty breathing in some”

““Masks may actually increase your coronavirus risk if worn improperly, surgeon general warns””
“Covering the mouth and nose for hours is not only uncomfortable for children (and adults), it also limits the airflow and the flow of oxygen coming in. It causes children to breath their own carbon dioxide, which we know is harmful. In addition, it provides a dark, warm, moist environment that potentially increases the risk of infection.”

“the pieces of protective equipment can make breathing harder”

“Focusing on universal masking alone may, paradoxically, lead to more transmission of Covid-19” “The extent of marginal benefit of universal masking over and above these foundational measures is debatable”

““wearing a N95 cover for 4 hours fundamentally decreased oxygen immersion and expanded respiratory antagonistic impacts””
“A portion of these patients (19% of them) really created different degrees of indicative hypoxemia. So it is demonstrated that these veils can decrease our oxygen in the blood.”
“wearing N95 covers [experienced] hypooxygenemia and hypercapnia which reduce[d] working proficiency and the capacity to settle on right choices.”

““Because breathing is slightly harder with a mask, I do recommend that people who suffer from severe COPD or other lung diseases that make breathing difficult carefully consider the use of face masks,” says Dr. Randell.

Well, I would simply recommend reading the whole article. The experiences of people wearing masks, such as headaches, are symptoms of respiratory acidosis, aka hypercapnia, aka hypoxemia.

Face masks may break up aerosols more quickly allowing for smaller, lighter, further-traveling viral particles than not wearing a mask at all.

““We’re seeing inflammation in people’s gums that have been healthy forever, and cavities in people who have never had them before,” says Dr. Rob Ramondi, a dentist and co-founder of One Manhattan Dental. “About 50% of our patients are being impacted by this, [so] we decided to name it ‘mask mouth’ — after ‘meth mouth.’ ”

“One reason irritation occurs is that facial coverings do not allow airflow to the face; when a person breathes, moisture accumulates and becomes trapped on the face. That dark, warm environment can facilitate skin issues like acne. In addition, masks and facial coverings can irritate the skin simply by rubbing against it, or by exposing the skin to allergens.”

“One in four young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 say they’ve considered suicide in the past month because of the pandemic,” Note that depression and anxiety are also symptoms of hypercapnia resulting from prolonged mask wearing.

“Face masks aren’t particularly effective against the spread of flu. The main effect may be “social distancing”: masks scare people away from one another.”

3. YouTube Videos:
OSHA director speaks on mask effectiveness and dangers:

Additional studies, articles and data, added 2021:

CDC/WHO admit that masks don’t work but tell us to wear them anyway


The Science is Settled. Lockdowns are More Deadly Than the Virus and Masks Don’t Work.



Medical Journal Warns About Masks’ Potentially Devastating Consequences

The Dangers of Masks

Masking Children: Tragic, Unscientific, and Damaging

Another Bungled CDC Study on Restaurants and Masks


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