Masks: Are There Benefits or Just a Comfort Prop? Let the Facts Speak
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
Initially I respected the call by my local Governor in Connecticut to protect our fellow citizens. Deep down I thought it was a little foolish to mandate masks, but love all people and thought I would wear one to help others feel safer. Then, I started digging a little further into the scientific literature. I have discovered that asymptomatic carriers pose no threat of contagion, and masks are neither safe nor effective. So, as schools prepare to create policies for children returning to school in the fall, we must keep these things in mind.
The epidemiology of SARS infections doesn’t seem to affect children as significantly as influenza. “SARS is a relatively mild disease in this age group.”
Masks are Ineffective and Risky, So Stop Calling Us Selfish
In Epidemics 2017, a meta-analysis mask wearing effectiveness had mixed reviews. Although some studies showed some helpfulness in mask wearing, “the primary finding was that regular hand hygiene was significantly protective in protecting from pandemic influenza infection, while facemask use was not significantly protective.”
Leading national experts on respiratory protection and infectious diseases weigh in. Despite recommendations to wear cloth masks, they claimed that they would not reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission. “As evidenced by the widespread practice of wearing such masks in Hubei province, China, before and during its mass COVID-19 transmission experience earlier this year.” They believe that medical masks over slightly more protection. They state that “properly fit respirators, are the only option that can ensure security for frontline workers dealing with COVID-19 cases.
In the British Medical Journal 2015, “the risk of contracting influenza-like illness if a cloth mask is used versus no mask at all.” Contaminated masks and masks holding moisture and pathogen retention can increase the risk of infection.
A 2016 study in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology found 97% of particles penetrated cloth masks, and 44% of particles penetrated medical masks. They reported that cloth masks are only marginally beneficial in protecting individuals from particles less than 2.5 micrometers. As referenced in the New England Journal of Medicine, the size of Coronavirus particles varied between 0.06 micrometers and 0.14 micrometers.
Cloth and surgical masks do not have a fit test. When worn, gaps around the edges allow small particles to enter the respiratory system. Also, according to the May 2010 edition of PLoS One, lack of eye protection was a primary risk factor of SARS-CoV transmission.
Wearing a mask for seven hours straight may not be safe. Carbon dioxide (CO2) rebreathing has been recognized as a concern in the Ergonomics Journal. The CDC has also admitted that the CO2 slowly builds up in the mask over time. This build-up can cause a condition called Hypercapnia. Essentially, CO2 poisoning - can cause mild symptoms of drowsiness or a headache. More severe symptoms can cause shortness of breath and even death. On May 6th, 2020, the New York Post reported the death of two boys dying within a week of each other while wearing a face mask during gym class.
In February, the CDC said they don’t recommend people use face masks. The World Health Organization also advised people to wear a mask only if they are displaying symptoms of Coronavirus or “taking care of a person with a suspected 2019-nCoV infection.”
There is zero scientific evidence that wearing a mask, especially for more extended periods, protects us. However, several studies found significant problems with wearing one. Side-effects range from headaches to increased airway resistance, carbon dioxide accumulation, hypoxia, to more severe complications.
In the Head and Neck Pain Journal, most healthcare workers develop de novo PPE‐associated headaches or exacerbation of their pre‐existing headache disorders.
When a person is infected with a respiratory virus, they will expel some of the virus with each breath. Wearing a mask creates a situation in which the individual continually breathes back in their viruses—breathing viruses back in raises the concentration of the virus in the lungs and nasal passages. It has been studied that those with a higher number of viral particles can develop a more severe illness. A recent study out of China published in the Lancet Journal reported a strong association between Covid19 disease severity and the amount of virus present in the nose.
The Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control Journal demonstrated, “Breathing through N95 mask materials have been shown to impede gaseous exchange and impose an additional workload on the metabolic system of pregnant healthcare workers. The benefits of using an N95 mask to prevent serious emerging infectious diseases should be weighed against potential respiratory consequences associated with extended N95 respirator usage.
Wearing a mask could put you at a greater risk of getting Covid19. Regular cloth or surgical masks, irritate the user, causing the user to touch their face with dirty hands more often. Also, the Coronavirus spreads in droplets, which most masks do not block. These masks can actually trap droplets inside, increasing risk instead of reducing it.
Masks also hamper oxygen intake; the body and the immune system require optimal levels of oxygen to feed cells and fight off illness, including Covid19. When studied, surgeons who wore surgical masks had a decrease in blood O2 saturation and an increase in pulse rates of the surgeons after the operations due to surgical mask usage.
According to the Journal of Biomedicines, our oxygen concentration is closely associated with cell survival and immune functioning, making one more susceptible to illness.
Masks can cause difficulty and labored breathing – even in a healthy individual. Blocking air even partially puts excess stress on thoracic muscles and the diaphragm, causing a person to feel out of breath. Wearing a mask can also make a person feel anxiety and panic. Claustrophobia and a feeling of suffocation must be acknowledged, especially among individuals who have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental health issues.
So, in summary, mask-wearing can be dangerous and is shown over and over again to be ineffective. It appears masks are more effective in helping to spread illness, by providing a surface for viruses to collect on, like carrying a petri dish in front of your face. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, if wearing a mask poses a mental or physical risk, there are exemptions. So please don’t mandate them to attend school, and please don’t teach the masses to hate and shame those that do not comply. This conditioning leads people to be more willing to follow irrational orders and do things without questioning authority, or logic, in the future. When there is a risk, there should always be a choice.
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