Article by Prince Godwin Amaah
It has been roughly two months now since the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization recommended that everyone should basically wear face masks to protect themselves from contracting Covid-19 when they step out of their homes.
During this period, I find myself wondering if prolonged use of face masks can have any adverse effect on the wearer. As a result, I have endeavored to research on this to see what I can find.
Now that wearing face masks has become a part of a person’s daily wardrobe when stepping out, I have observed that people use it in the diverse settings they go to during the day. Therefore, the time of continued use varies for each individual. Some use it while shopping for groceries, while others need to wear it at their place of employment — especially those working in clinics and hospitals.
Hence, common sense dictates to us that as you are up and about during the day, the air which your body exhales gets trapped in the mask covering your mouth and nose. Be reminded that this air contains toxins your lungs are trying to get rid of. Since it has been trapped by the mask and your nose does not have somewhere else to completely inhale fresh air, then the air which you inhale will reintroduce the same toxic air into your body again. This is what I call self-poisoning by continual reintroduction of carbon dioxide back into your body. If you were wondering why carbon dioxide, then the answer is just a simple science explanation. This is because during the phenomena of breathing, your body via the agency of your nostrils inhales oxygen from the environment you are in and exhale from within you carbon dioxide into the open.
It is a known fact that prolonged wearing of face masks affects the breathing of a considerable number of people, especially the elderly. Therefore, some doctors have advised to take a break by removing the mask in a safe area during specified times in the course of your daily activities.
This would help prevent some of the recent medical cases that have come into the hospitals of people feeling faint, light-headed, or "smothered", only to fall into an unconscious state and eventually be rushed into a hospital. Some others have been unfortunate as when they fainted, they were still behind the steering wheel of their moving vehicle and as a result, were involved in an accident. By the way, this is the exact story of one driver who crashed his SUV into a pole in Lincoln Park, New Jersey, USA on April 23. He actually blamed his collision on his mask. In his statement to the police he disclosed that he had passed out in the car whiles driving because he had been wearing an N95 mask for too long.
Initially, the investigating officers believed him, writing in a Facebook post that he was the only person in the car and passed out due to “insufficient oxygen intake/excessive carbon dioxide intake.” But in a later post, the police backed off from their first stance stating that they did not know “with 100% certainty” that “excessive wearing” of an N95 mask was a contributing factor to the accident. They then created an escape hatch for themselves by adding that “it is certainly possible that some other medical reason could’ve contributed to the driver passing out.”This incidence therefore shows as that it is possible for someone wearing a face mask as part of their way of combating the spread of covid-19; to build up so much carbon dioxide and get so little oxygen that they pass out, or worse.
The only thing going on for us is that when it comes to face masks, we know they’re not all made equally. The extent to which a mask could affect CO2 levels depends on what it’s made of, and how tightly it fits. Therefore, we should encourage the makers of the masks to do so taking into consideration the need to make filters through which enough gulps of fresh air can pass through and gets right into our nostrils while allowing us to exhale much of the carbon dioxide from outside the face masks into the open. Additionally, they must make the fit of the mask a bit loose. Also some extra study or research much be conducted to determine the best type of nose masks that should be used and the right material it should be made out of, thereby reducing to the barest minimum our re-intake of the carbon dioxide we exhale whiles wearing our face masks, all in the name of protecting ourselves from contracting the novel corona virus called Covid-19.
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