June 24, 2020
By: Staff Report
TAMPA Fla. – As Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas, have passed mandates and orders requiring masks in indoor places of business, many citizens are complaining of the health risks associated with wearing a mask. Particularly those with illnesses such as asthma or COPD.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), inhaling high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) may be life-threatening. Hypercapnia (carbon dioxide toxicity) can also cause headaches, vertigo, double vision, inability to concentrate, tinnitus (hearing a noise, like ringing or buzzing, that’s not caused by an outside source), seizures, or suffocation due to displacement of air.
But the emphasis here should be on high levels. “It has to be a pretty high concentration to be capable of causing harm,” Bill Carroll, Ph.D., an adjunct professor of chemistry at Indiana University, Bloomington, said in an interview with Health, “CO2 is present in the atmosphere at a level of about 0.04%. It is dangerous in an atmosphere when it is greater than about 10%.”
According to Snopes, breathing in excessive carbon dioxide is dangerous for the body. Some people with preexisting respiratory illnesses may face health issues only with prolonged use of tight-fitting masks, such as respirators. However, people wearing cloth or surgical masks are in little to no danger of breathing in unhealthy amounts of carbon dioxide.
“I don’t think there’s any evidence that wearing a surgical mask has any benefit to protect someone in general from exposure, or from being infected,” Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, Professor of Medicine and Public Health at University of California, Los Angeles said. “We usually recommend people who are ill wear surgical masks to prevent transmission [to others].”
While medical professionals will often wear a face mask when dealing directly with sick patients, there isn’t any significant data to back up the idea that generally wearing a surgical face mask in day-to-day situations — on public transit, for example — has any protective benefits for wearers.
“That being said, in an epidemic setting, I think masking is a way that people can be reminded that there’s an ongoing respiratory disease epidemic,” Dr. Klausner hypothesized. “I surmise it might help people remember to wash their hands, to not shake other people’s hands, to cover their mouth when they sneeze or cough.”
“So it may be kind of an awareness tool, but in terms of its direct benefits, there’s no data,” Dr. Klausner added.
A viral social media post going circulating, shows a different and alarming side of the argument. In the video, the man is using an air quality tester, and not focusing on CO2, but rather oxygen levels that come through the mask.
The great mask debate will continue, as opinions on this matter are being circulated throughout the cyber highway.