Mask Mania

 

We live in a very bipolar society and one of the most obvious examples of this is the tenacity of masking. The unfortunate truth is that an aerosolized virus particle is so small that the only sure way to prevent an encounter with it is with your own self-contained breathing apparatus. How many scuba suits are you seeing on the streets of New York? Can a surgical mask stop a particle or two? Well, it is certainly possible in the same way that fishnet stockings may prevent some sunburn but not what anyone would call overall effective. Early on there were multiple articles exaggerating the necessity of public masking, none of them particularly convincing or well done but they danced around the truth and pushed their preconceived notions in the name of public health. 

The reality is very few wear masks of any quality, and nobody is wearing them properly. Even in healthcare settings where a fresh N-95 may be handed out daily most opt for the regular mask so they can breathe easier. I have seen people in public however pick one off the ground and put it on to enter their doctor’s office, one of the last places where they are still mandated around here. Most of the time I consider masks to be ineffective and silly but not harmful for adults. Children on the other hand are another story and government actions have been crimes against the speech and societal development of our future generation.  

Prior to covid, it was commonly known that oxygen masks in young children could cause rebreathing resulting in elevated carbon dioxide. This was such a concern that redesigned masks to limit rebreathing and improve oxygen efficiency would be brought to the market. It appears to be a success and is called an OxyMask. Proper respiration is essential to human health and beneath all of this is the subtle acid-base chemistry constantly maintained by our breathing. Inhaled carbon dioxide mixes with water in our bodies to produce carbonic acid. This simple and reversible chemical reaction is one of the ways our bodies maintain their pH balance. If you have not seen it, The Andromeda Strain (1971) is an excellent film where this concept plays a critical role in the story, it is based on the Michael Crichton book of the same name from 1969 so not exactly new science. 

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00431-021-04157-1
https://media.lanecc.edu/users/driscolln/RT127/Softchalk/Acid_Base_Lesson/Acid_Base_Lesson6.html  

Last summer amid our muzzle the children to protect the adults debate a German article was published in JAMA Pediatrics examining if there was any risk of rebreathing with nose and mouth coverings in children. It was quickly retracted though with the following vague statement. 

“Given fundamental concerns about the study methodology, uncertainty regarding the validity of the findings and conclusions, and the potential public health implications, the editors have retracted this Research Letter.” 

This raises the question that if the study methodology was so bad why was it ever accepted and published in the first place? There does appear to be some back and forth between the authors and the editor because the retraction clearly states that the authors were invited to respond to these concerns but were unable to provide sufficiently convincing evidence. I have the suspicion that if the author’s conclusions were different then the methodology would not have been suspect. Article and retraction links are below.
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2781743    (FULL ARTICLE)
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2782288     (RETRACTION) 

The lead author of the study Dr. Harald Walach did respond to a request for comment, and he believes the retraction to be unjustified and has since republished it in another journal where it has undergone three rounds of triple-peer review. That article in its entirety can be found at the link below. The editors who retracted the article have chosen not to respond to my request for comment. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35636467/  

The article concludes that masking increased the carbon dioxide content in inhaled air upward of 13,000 PPM (parts per million). 2000 PPM is considered the acceptable limit and 1000 PPM is normal for air in enclosed rooms. The most troubling part of this is that the experiment used a brief time interval to achieve these results meanwhile in the real-world children are wearing these masks for a much longer period and sometimes even during physical exertion. 

The effects of environmental exposure to carbon dioxide have been a real topic of investigation in certain professions. This exposure can be commonplace for miners, astronauts, and submariners. The data from these appears to be mixed with some suggesting that it could have negative impacts upon cognition, they do all seem to agree that further research is warranted. Extra credit for the conspiracy theorists out there we also have an animal study that concludes carbon dioxide is a robust fear-inducing stimulus that discourages exploration in mice.   

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31240239/ 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29789085/   

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33103571/  

Jacob Hyatt Pharm D.
Father of three, Husband, Pharmacist, Realtor, Landlord, Independent Health, and Medicine Reporter
https://substack.com/discover/pharmacoconuts 

hyattjn@gmail.com 

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  1. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    Masking is one of the few ways to be visibly seen “Doing Something”.    I don’t care if people think I am doing something, but it is important to some people.

    • #1
  2. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    • #2
  3. Mad Gerald Coolidge
    Mad Gerald
    @Jose

    My VA medical provider finally stopped requiring masks a couple weeks ago.  And reinstated the mask requirement last week.  I am so sick of these things!

    I wore the mask below my nose throughout the 20 minutes I spent with my provider and he didn’t mention it.

    • #3
  4. Mad Gerald Coolidge
    Mad Gerald
    @Jose

    JacobHyatt: Proper respiration is essential to human health and beneath all of this is the subtle acid base chemistry constantly maintained by our breathing. Inhaled carbon dioxide mixes with water in our bodies to produce carbonic acid. This simple and reversible chemical reaction is one of the ways our bodies maintain their pH balance.

    Not only do terrestrial plants love and absorb CO2, but so do plants that grow underwater.  For several years I maintained a heavily planted aquarium with CO2 added to the water.  The plants thrived but adding too much CO2 raised the acidity, which could kill the fish.  It was definitely a balancing act.

     

    • #4
  5. Captain French Moderator
    Captain French
    @AlFrench

    Two Portland area suburban school districts have recently re-instituted masks requirements for students.

    • #5
  6. Buckpasser Member
    Buckpasser
    @Buckpasser

    I wear red socks to ward of the Wuflu.  Works better than face diapers.

    • #6
  7. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    Quality N95 masks ( worn properly ) do a fine job and are appropriate for at-risk folks in certain situations.

    Everyone else should go about their lives.   Although it wouldn’t hurt if better hand washing hygiene was practiced by everyone.   NYC subway riders … I’m looking at you (but not making eye contact)

    • #7
  8. Cassandro Coolidge
    Cassandro
    @Flicker

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    Quality N95 masks ( worn properly ) do a fine job and are appropriate for at-risk folks in certain situations.

    Everyone else should go about their lives. Although it wouldn’t hurt if better hand washing hygiene was practiced by everyone. NYC subway riders … I’m looking at you (but not making eye contact)

    Better handwashing hygiene just makes you grow rich and die insane.

    • #8
  9. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    Quality N95 masks ( worn properly ) do a fine job and are appropriate for at-risk folks in certain situations.

    Everyone else should go about their lives. Although it wouldn’t hurt if better hand washing hygiene was practiced by everyone. NYC subway riders … I’m looking at you (but not making eye contact)

    I too have heard that really good masks help. Regular masks not so much.

    @Jacob Hyatt

    What is an N-95 and why do some people think it works while the other cotton masks don’t work.

     

    • #9
  10. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Thank you a thousand times for this post.  It’s time for me to do a new mask post on RushBabe49.com, and I will be linking to this post, and publishing some excerpts.

    I have a physical therapy appointment this week, and I have already decided to only go maybe twice, because our State Dictator has maintained the mask mandate for medical facilities.  I refuse to wear a mask for a full hour, and PT is exertion!

    • #10
  11. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Thank you a thousand times for this post. It’s time for me to do a new mask post on RushBabe49.com, and I will be linking to this post, and publishing some excerpts.

    I have a physical therapy appointment this week, and I have already decided to only go maybe twice, because our State Dictator has maintained the mask mandate for medical facilities. I refuse to wear a mask for a full hour, and PT is exertion!

    Why should you suffer more with your ailments to no medical benefit to yourself or others.

    • #11
  12. MiMac Thatcher
    MiMac
    @MiMac

    None of the 3 articles you cite as alarming support your thesis:

    “There were no clear dose-response patterns for performance on either SMS or Cognition.”

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31240239/

    “There were no significant differences for any of the nine SMS measures of decision making between the CO2 exposure conditions.”

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29789085/

    “Inhaling 35% carbon dioxide induces….”

    Really? Inhaling 35% CO2? Where could you do that? Perhaps on Venus or Mars with a defective pressure suit. Or perhaps huffing CO2 out of a tank…

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33103571/

    Medical personnel wear masks for many hours a day with no ill effects-most studies support the contention that mask wearing has little effective on respiratory & cognitive parameters.

    https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/face-masks-have-negligible-negative-effect-on-co2-and-o2-levels

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33858372/

    even the data on kids isn’t that alarming (for respiratory effects):

    https://www.med.upenn.edu/CEP/assets/user-content/documents/covid-reports/masks-and-co2-final.pdf

    “We only found two paediatric studies, published in 2019 and 2020. The 2020 study was not related to COVID-19. Only one study, performed with N95 respirators, collected medical parameters, and this did not suggest any harmful effects of gas exchange”

    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apa.15784

    a study looking at N95 masks in kids (in 2016) to counter act pollution found no ill effects-they found only small changes ( all “well within acceptable ranges”) in end tidal CO (an approximation for blood CO2 nonivasive-ie no needles).

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-55451-w

    no change in respiratory parameters from wearing masks in children in Italy..

    “cohort study of 47 infants and young children in Italy, wearing surgical face masks for 30 minutes was not associated with changes in respiratory parameters or clinical signs of respiratory distress.”

    [NB- respiratory effects should be seen rather quickly- additionally the body compensates for changes in blood gas parameters….]

    https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2776928

    trying to create panic over masks is unreasonable- there are many reasons to oppose mask mandates, but physiological effects on children aren’t among the good reasons to oppose masks…..

    • #12
  13. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Thank you for this post!

    I am not a medical person but I have read a bunch of the literature about masks that was put out before Covid, saying that healthy people should not go around wearing masks for protection against viruses.  In fact that was the standard according to Anthony Fauci before he did his reversal without citing reasons why.

    To me, the best evidence against masks working against Covid is just to look at any graph charting Covid cases in any city, State, or country, and plotting them against the dates when mask mandates were instituted in those places.  I have yet to see a single graph in which the curve changed one iota from its determined course at or near the date of a mask mandate, or near the date of repeal.  I’ve never seen a correlating bump in the curve either up or down.  In the vast majority of cases, the number of Covid cases continue to rise (as cases are usually on the rise when mandates are instituted), often by exponential factors, after a mask mandate has been declared.  This “real world” data speaks to me much louder than any controlled experiments done in laboratories under ideal conditions in which they count the number of particles stopped by a particular mask material.

    It seems to me that under the best conditions, an N-95 mask can be a little effective at stopping a portion of viruses, especially in controlled hospital settings, but for the general public you are never going to get ideal conditions nor ideal mask-wearing protocol.

    Here’s something that is almost never explored“Experts” tell us that the spaces in between mask fibers need not be smaller than individual virus particles because the virus is being expelled via large water droplets that are easily caught by the mask.  Here’s the big question – What happens after that water droplet evaporates in the mask?  (which could be seconds to minutes)  The virus  doesn’t just disappear.  It has to go somewhere.  It is easily blown into the atmosphere by the breath of the wearer, which might be worse than if the wearer had  expelled water droplets with no mask, that would then fall harmlessly to the ground instead of becoming airborne.

    • #13
  14. Cassandro Coolidge
    Cassandro
    @Flicker

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Here’s something that is almost never explored“Experts” tell us that the spaces in between mask fibers need not be smaller than individual virus particles because the virus is being expelled via large water droplets that are easily caught by the mask.  Here’s the big question – What happens after that water droplet evaporates in the mask?  (which could be seconds to minutes)  The virus  doesn’t just disappear.  It has to go somewhere.  It is easily blown into the atmosphere by the breath of the wearer, which might be worse than if the wearer had  expelled water droplets with no mask, that would then fall harmlessly to the ground instead of becoming airborne.

    Or you could just re-inhale a ever-increasingly contaminated air that picks up exhaled virus bodies from the mask itself.

    • #14
  15. MiMac Thatcher
    MiMac
    @MiMac

    Cassandro (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Here’s something that is almost never explored. “Experts” tell us that the spaces in between mask fibers need not be smaller than individual virus particles because the virus is being expelled via large water droplets that are easily caught by the mask. Here’s the big question – What happens after that water droplet evaporates in the mask? (which could be seconds to minutes) The virus doesn’t just disappear. It has to go somewhere. It is easily blown into the atmosphere by the breath of the wearer, which might be worse than if the wearer had expelled water droplets with no mask, that would then fall harmlessly to the ground instead of becoming airborne.

    Of you could just re-inhale a ever-increasingly contaminated air that picks up exhaled virus bodies from the mask itself.

    Than how do masksprotect healthcare workers taking care of COVID patients? They faced high viral loads yet few got sick while wearing N95 masks.

    • #15
  16. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    MiMac (View Comment):

    Cassandro (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Here’s something that is almost never explored. “Experts” tell us that the spaces in between mask fibers need not be smaller than individual virus particles because the virus is being expelled via large water droplets that are easily caught by the mask. Here’s the big question – What happens after that water droplet evaporates in the mask? (which could be seconds to minutes) The virus doesn’t just disappear. It has to go somewhere. It is easily blown into the atmosphere by the breath of the wearer, which might be worse than if the wearer had expelled water droplets with no mask, that would then fall harmlessly to the ground instead of becoming airborne.

    Of you could just re-inhale a ever-increasingly contaminated air that picks up exhaled virus bodies from the mask itself.

    Than how do masksprotect healthcare workers taking care of COVID patients? They faced high viral loads yet few got sick while wearing N95 masks.

    I don’t know.  If I ever find out the answer will you explain why mask mandates never affect the number of Covid cases plotted on graphs?  Besides, I said I thought that N95 masks were a little more effective in hospital settings.  That is partially due to the fact that healthcare workers are more conscientious about the tight fit of the mask, and the fact that they change them more often than the general public does.  There are probably some other factors I’m not aware of, too.  Proper ventilation may be a factor.

    • #16
  17. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Steven Seward (View Comment):
    If I ever find out the answer will you explain why mask mandates never affect the number of Covid cases plotted on graphs?

    I’ve always thought, based on behavior patterns I observed on quiet Cape Cod, that the mask usage went up voluntarily in response to a climbing new-case count. The masks could not stop what was already in motion. Once the microorganism moved in, even though it was impossible to stop it, people tried anyway, of course. Sort of like swatting at a swarm of mosquitoes around them. No one believes handwashing or avoiding touching doorknobs or wearing a poorly designed cheap mouth-and-nose mask will absolutely stop the microorganism from landing on them and making them sick. But they imagine it might, and they are desperate to take some, any, action just in case it might help. It’s just human nature. “If I do all of these things, perhaps I’ll get lucky and one of them might work. Something is always better than nothing.” :)

    In other words, I doubt the inexpensive-mask usage by the public had any effect, good or bad, in and of itself on the spread of the disease. But I still believe it was effective in some ways we’ll never know. Most importantly, people believed they might help and so the country was able to function because of them. It wasn’t a crazy idea, and it probably did some good in some ways peripheral to their intended purpose.

    I once asked my daughter-the-veterinarian why, when the pandemic started, the hospitals were caught so short in having protective gear on hand, especially the N5 masks. She said that administrators couldn’t really justify the exorbitant expense. To be effective, each mask has to be fitted to its owner, and it has to be changed often. Keeping that equipment up to date was not possible.

    The SARS-II microorganism is very tiny and very lightweight, making it hard to design a mask to keep it out. And as I understand it, the latest omicron variant is half the size and weight of the parent microorganism. It floats through the air like a milk pod seed. Probably the best way to prevent an infection is to keep all the windows open, and in lieu of that because of air-conditioning, deploying industrial fans throughout every building and public space.

    • #17
  18. MiMac Thatcher
    MiMac
    @MiMac

    Much of the concerns over hypercapnia (increased CO2)are overdone- there was a 16 year old boy who survived a blood gas pCO2 of 501 (normal is 40 and you body typical regulates it closely) without sequelae. The masks studies show only small increases in pCO2- which can easily be managed with a few extra respirations a minute.

    “severe hypercapnia can be very benign. It is possible to survive extreme levels of respiratory acidosis without sequelae if oxygenation and circulation are maintained.”

    https://pubs.asahq.org/anesthesiology/article/87/4/993/36250/Management-of-Massive-Grain-Aspiration

    critically ill patients in the ICU routinely undergo “permissive hyper capnea”- (ie their pCO2 is allowed to rise) as a means to avoid excessive ventilatory pressure and thereby protect their lungs. Such patients tolerate it without problems- keep in mind such patients often have multiple comorbidities.

    • #18
  19. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    What I really appreciate about mask mandates, is the concern for proper biohazard disposal wafter the mask is used.

    • #19
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