Guest post by: Dr Mariah Mosley
I spent my Saturday evening watching an interview from a PhD biochemist, cellular and molecular biologist, and virologist, Dr. Judy Mikovits. She has spent the majority of her career working in the National Cancer Institute and high security bio-weapons labs. This controversial interview was interesting to say the least, and can be found here (4). What I found interesting was her view on the face masks some states are requiring us to wear to be outside or in public. As I was driving, I looked over to see two people wearing face masks, even though they were inside of their car and not around anyone else. So I know there is definitely some confusion in the general public as to what these face masks do, and when to wear them.
Do Face Masks Really Protect Us?
After researching a bit, what I have found thus far is that there has not been adequate evidence showing normal masks can stop people from becoming infected with a virus. Face masks don’t seem to offer significant protection from viruses, and in fact, there may even be evidence that it could actually be contributing to disease in a subset of the population…
According to the WHO, masks are only to be used if you are taking care of a sick person or are having symptoms (1). Their website states masks will not stop you from getting the virus. They just came out with another article (2) that again stated that face masks cannot stop healthy people from getting sick. CDC recommends face masks, and gives instructions on how to make your own online (11). However, I didn’t see any references indicating whether they will actually be helpful. National Centers for Health Research states, “Face masks… are designed to block large particle droplets, splashes, and sprays from reaching the wearer’s mouth and nose. Face masks do not form a tight seal around the nose and mouth and so they can’t protect you from very small particles in the air transmitted by coughs or sneezes (such as virus particles that can be breathed in by the user) (9). This implies that the only use for a face mask with this information would be to protect others if you suspected you were exposed and a carrier.
Face Masks and Oxygenation
Secondly, when people are breathing in and out constantly with these face masks, they will continue to recirculate the carbon dioxide they are breathing out, instead of getting fresh oxygen from the air into their lungs. Fresh oxygen is essential to our bodies for us to perform optimally. When oxygen levels drop significantly, we will start to experience headaches, shortness of breath, and in severe cases it can interfere with heart and brain function. Experts say you can only survive 3 minutes without oxygen at all. This will obviously not occur from just using a face mask; I just wanted to help you understand how essential oxygen is to our survival.
Onto the studies: it has been demonstrated that doctors using surgical masks during their surgeries had decreased oxygenation saturation (3) in their blood. Another study (5) showed that “wearing an N95 mask for 4 hours significantly reduced oxygen saturation and increased respiratory adverse effects” in patients with renal issues back during the SARS pandemic. Some of these patients (19% of them) actually developed various degrees of symptomatic hypoxemia. So it is proven that these masks can reduce our oxygen in the blood.
This current study (6) still in clinical trials from 2005 during the SARS pandemic states the healthcare workers “wearing N95 masks [experienced] hypooxygenemia and hypercapnia which reduce[d] working efficiency and the ability to make correct decisions.” So even though this isn’t a published study yet, we already do know and have multiple studies supporting that hypoxia (low oxygen) will influence cognitive function (7,8).
So, my take from this all is:
- If you want to use a mask in the grocery store- go ahead. But just remember it isn’t 100% really protecting you. *Maybe* it is protecting others, but probably not, since viruses are so miniscule.
- If you do use a mask, please make sure to take off your face mask immediately after you are out of the store, so you can breathe fresh air and have proper oxygenation.
- And REMEMBER- the best way to avoid getting sick is still the basics: wash your hands, be healthy, and SUPPORT YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM (see previous posts).
**Update: I was finally able to find one influenza study (11) showing “surgical masks worn by patients reduce aerosols shedding of virus.” The study explained that “the abundance of viral copies in fine particle aerosols and evidence for their infectiousness suggests an important role in seasonal influenza transmission.” However, this study really only seemed to be speaking on viral particles that were contained in large droplets, sprayed from the person’s mouth, NOT airborne viral particles. (Reminds me of the school kids who would comment “Say it, don’t spray it” when someone would spit when they talked!)
- Coronavirus: should everyone be wearing face masks? https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/07/face-masks-cannot-stop-healthy-people-getting-covid-19-says-who
- Preliminary report on surgical mask induced deoxygenation during major surgery. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18500410
- Dr. Judy Mikovits, PhD about: COVID-19 masks, pandemia, vaccines and transmitting disease. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPOIaPxMwMQ&feature=youtu.be
- The physiological impact of wearing an N95 mask during hemodialysis as a precaution against SARS in patients with end-stage renal disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15340662
- Wearing N95 masks may have adverse physical effect on medical staff https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00173017
- Chronic hypoxia-hypercapnia influences cognitive function: a possible new model of cognitive dysfunction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18331781
- Cognition and chronic hypoxia in pulmonary diseases https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5619525/
- Face Masks and Respirators: Can They Prevent Viruses Like H1N1 (Swine Flu)? http://www.center4research.org/face-masks-respirators-can-prevent-viruses-like-h1n1-swine-flu/
- Influenza Virus Aerosols in Human Exhaled Breath: Particle Size, Culturability, and Effect of Surgical Masks https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3591312/
- Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html