Does Face Mask Cause Over Exposure to CO2? Here’s What New Study Reveals

Healthy individuals as well as senior citizens with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD were part of the study.

There were some reports that wearing face masks may cause over exposure to carbon dioxide by trapping it. However, new research completely contradicts these statements. The coronavirus pandemic has forced people to wear face masks most of the time. This is important to keep yourself safe for highly infectious COVID-19. But some people started to claim that it is putting people’s health at risk. Now a study published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society has proved that the claims are completely false.

In the study titled “Effect of Face Masks on Gas Exchange in Healthy Persons and Patients with COPD,” Michael Campos, Doctor of Medicines and co-authors studied changes in oxygen and carbon dioxide levels while using surgical masks. Healthy individuals as well as senior citizens with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD were part of the study. According to the ATS Patient Education Fact Sheet on COPD, people with the disease “must work harder to in order to breathe, and this can lead to shortness of breath or feeling tired.”


Dr. Campos – working at Miami Veterans Administration Medical Center and the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the University of Miami – said that the effects of wearing masks are minimal at most even in cases with people having very severe lung impairment.

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The doctor also explained why some healthy people may experience breathlessness. He said that the feeling of shortness of breath or dyspnea while wearing a face mask is not synonymous with alterations in gas exchange. This happens because of the restriction of air flow because of the mask in particular when higher ventilation is needed.

For example, if someone is walking briskly up an incline, he may experience feelings of breathlessness. This situation can be handled by avoiding overly tight mask. When feeling breathlessness, the simple solution is to remove the mask for some time. But it is suggested only when you are at a safe distance from other people.

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Stressing on the importance of wearing a mask to fight the coronavirus, Dr Campos said that if a surgical mask is not available, CDC recommended mask with at least two layers can be used. He suggested that patients with lung disease should be extra careful and avoid getting infected.


The study comes at a time when some people claimed that wearing masks were putting lives at risk. Commenting on the sample size of the study, the doctor said that it may be limited but offers clear results that there’s no effect of surgical masks on relevant physiological changes in gas exchange under routine circumstances.

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