Mask Facts vs. Myths: Do masks cause you to breathe carbon dioxide?

Updated: Jul. 15, 2020 at 10:46 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone over the age of 2 wear a mask while in public.

Because the internet is full of claims about what a face mask does or doesn’t do, WBRC asked state health officer Dr. Karen Landers to separate mask facts from fiction.

Claim: Wearing a mask will increase the amount of carbon dioxide I breathe and will make me sick.

“That is absolutely a myth,” said Dr. Karen Landers. “While it may be a bit hot, physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers have worked in high-level PPE and have not had this problem.”

Only an airtight mask could possibly cause breathing difficulty; so, that eliminates cloth masks which research shows carbon dioxide will freely diffuse through as you breathe.

With 42 years in healthcare, while studying Tuberculosis and Ebola, Dr. Landers said she wore an N95 mask for hours and never had an issue with hypoxia.

Claim: You only need a mask if you’re sick.

“That is a myth. We are supportive of persons who have immunosuppressive conditions taking the best care that they can of their health. But, it’s also our responsibility to take care of people around us and by wearing a mask. We are going to reduce the asymptomatic spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Landers said.

Claim: Wearing a mask protects other people but not me.

“That’s a myth,” said Landers. “There is starting to be some additional information about face coverings protecting not only other people from you but also protecting you from the transmission of the virus.”

Research shows with universal mask-wearing adherence, the spread COVID-19 decreased.

Claim: All face coverings can block respiratory droplets.

Landers said it’s true. “Depending on the type of face-covering you’re using, there’s more protection than with other face coverings. For what we’re talking about here with the general public, the cloth face-covering works quite well.”

A final fact: COVID-19 can kill, wearing a mask likely won’t.

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