The Harm Caused by Masks: Study

Evidence continues to mount that mask mandates were perhaps the worst public-health intervention in modern American history. While concluding that wearing masks “probably makes little or no difference” in preventing the spread of viruses, a recent Cochrane review also emphasized that “more attention should be paid to describing and quantifying the harms” that may come from wearing masks. A new study from Germany does just that, and it suggests that the excess carbon dioxide breathed in by mask-wearers may have substantial ill-effects on their health—and, in the case of pregnant women, their unborn children’s.


Mask-wearers breathe in greater amounts of air that should have been expelled from their bodies and released out into the open. “[A] significant rise in carbon dioxide occurring while wearing a mask is scientifically proven in many studies,” write the German authors. “Fresh air has around 0.04% CO2,” they observe, while chronic exposure at CO2 levels of 0.3 percent is “toxic.” How much CO2 do mask-wearers breathe in? The authors write that “masks bear a possible chronic exposure to low level carbon dioxide of 1.41–3.2% CO2 of the inhaled air in reliable human experiments.”

In other words, while eight times the normal level of carbon dioxide is toxic, research suggests that mask-wearers (specifically those who wear masks for more than 5 minutes at a time) are breathing in 35 to 80 times normal levels.

The German study, a scoping review of existing research, aimed “to investigate the toxicological effects of face masks in terms of CO2 rebreathing on developing life, specifically for pregnant women, children, and adolescents.” The latter two groups, of course, have been among those most frequently subjected to mask mandates in schools, despite Covid’s low levels of risk for them and the evidence that masks don’t work.

What can breathing too much carbon dioxide do to you? The authors write that “at levels between 0.05% and 0.5% CO2,” one might experience an “increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and overall increased circulation with the symptoms of headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, rhinitis, and dry cough.” Rates above 0.5 percent can lead to “reduced cognitive performance, impaired decision-making and reduced speed of cognitive solutions.” Beyond 1 percent, “the harmful effects include respiratory acidosis, metabolic stress, increased blood flow and decreased exercise tolerance.” Again, mask-wearers are likely breathing in CO2 levels between 1.4 percent and 3.2 percent—well above any of these thresholds. What’s more, “Testes metabolism and cell respiration have been shown to be inhibited increasingly by rising levels of CO2.”

So, high blood pressure, reduced thinking ability, respiratory problems, and reproductive concerns are among the many possible results of effectively poisoning oneself by breathing in too much carbon dioxide.

The authors write that “it is clear that carbon dioxide rebreathing, especially when using N95 masks, is above the 0.8% CO2 limit set by the US Navy to reduce the risk of stillbirths and birth defects on submarines with female personnel who may be pregnant.” In other words, mandates have forced pregnant women to wear masks resulting in levels of CO2 inhalation that would be prohibited if they were serving on a Navy submarine.

Indeed, according to the authors, there exists “circumstantial evidence that popular mask use may be related to current observations of a significant rise of 28% to 33% in stillbirths worldwide and a reduced verbal, motor, and overall cognitive performance of two full standard deviations in scores in children born during the pandemic.” They cite recent data from Australia, which “shows that lockdown restrictions and other measures (including masks that have been mandatory in Australia), in the absence of high rates of COVID-19 disease, were associated with a significant increase in stillborn births.” Meantime, “no increased risk of stillbirths was observed in Sweden,” which famously defied the public-health cabal and went its own way in setting Covid policies.

As for countries where mask-wearing has long been common, the authors write, “Even before the pandemic, in Asia the stillbirth rates have been significantly higher” than in Eurasia, Oceania, or North Africa.

“It has to be pointed out that this data on the toxicity of carbon dioxide on reproduction has been known for 60 years,” the authors observe. For this reason, they write, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has CO2 threshold limits of 3 percent for 15 minutes and 0.5 percent for eight hours in workplace ambient air. Yet the CDC has been perhaps the primary pusher of masks in the United States.

Nor is increased CO2 intake the only health danger that results from wearing masks. The study focused only on CO2, but the authors note that “other noxious agents in the masks contribute to toxicological long-term effects like the inhalation of synthetic microfibers, carcinogenic compounds and volatile organic compounds.” They add that “the increased carbon dioxide content of the breathing air behind the mask may also lead to a displacement of oxygen.” Masks are also uncomfortable and unhygienic, and they profoundly compromise human social interaction.

In light of all this, it seems indefensible to mandate—or even to advise—the wearing of masks, especially among the young. The authors write, “Keeping in mind the weak antiviral mask efficacy, the general trend of forcing mask mandates even for the vulnerable subgroups is not based on sound scientific evidence and not in line with the obligation in particular to protect born or unborn children from potential harmful influences.”

Public-health officials—and the executive-branch leaders who credulously listened to them—ignored centuries of Western norms, the best medical evidence, and common sense, deciding that their own novel and evidence-free course was the one that all of society should be forced to follow. We should never again indulge such an obvious and destructive misstep.

About the Author: Jeffrey H. Anderson is president of the American Main Street Initiative, a think tank for everyday Americans. He served as director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics at the U.S. Department of Justice from 2017 to 2021.


Read More: Face Mask series

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