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I wrote that before I discovered that the Daily Kos had a short post by that title. But unlike that brief anecdote, there is real science behind what I’m about to say. First, allow me to preface my comments with the fact that I am a medical doctor. I do not play one on TV.
I explained how masks do nothing for the general public to reduce disease transmission here. The only people who should wear masks are the elderly and infirm, the actively ill who must go out in public, and those caring for the presently ill. The only effective masks are properly fitted N95s. Period. They work because they force you to breathe through the filter medium. There’s only one other mask that does that – the fabric mask. Unfortunately, cloth masks are poor substitutes for N95s. Cloth masks let as much as 97% of virus particles through. N95s get that name because if properly fitted, they block 97% of virus particles.
All true filter masks suffer from one very large problem. They are filters. Just like your home air conditioning filter, they get full. If you wait too long to change the filter at home, you’ll see all sorts of gray mold and dust on the back side of the filter. This is called “spill-over.” When crud strikes the filter on one side, crud comes out the other side. The filter isn’t a filter any more.
The same thing happens with filtering masks. If you wear them too long, the virus they’re blocking penetrates anyway, but in much higher concentrations than if you weren’t wearing a mask at all. That’s why N95s have to be changed out regularly. At $8+ per mask, re-sterilization with UV light is very important to keep costs down.
With fabric, even multilayer masks don’t pass thirty percent efficiency. That means that if you are in the same zip code with the virus, you’ll get it through the mask very quickly, and the viruses that did get caught will then spill over rapidly. In short, a cloth mask works very well to increase your exposure to viruses. Isn’t that what you want? Not! By the way, a cloth mask can be washed, but do you do that every day?
With all the non-filtering masks (cup style, train-robber bandana, face shield) there is no protection whatever, since all breathing comes from the side or bottom, and there’s no barrier to aerosols. While they may give some (false) sense of security – “I’m doing something!” – if you are near a virus spreader, that virus will deposit on the “mask,” prolonging your exposure. But that’s not all.
Brace yourself. I spent 36 years in anesthesia, where airway and lung function were part of my daily practice. The numbers you are about to read are real. They have not been changed to protect Fauci and Birx.
In the average 150# adult, the ordinary resting breath is 500 milliliters. That’s just over a pint. We make up for taking such small breaths by taking a lot of them. Breathing allows us to bring oxygen into our bodies and remove carbon dioxide from them. But not all of that good air gets anywhere near the alveoli (air sacs) in our lungs. In fact, not very much of it does.
The air space in our nose, throat, larynx, trachea, and smaller airways does not contribute to gas exchange. That’s why we call those conducting airways “anatomic dead space.” If you only moved fresh air into them, you’d be dead. (Actually, it’s called dead space because it doesn’t contribute to gas exchange, but the other line seemed better – and it’s true.) So let’s do some math. (Sorry, politicians. We’re going to have to look at reality for a change.)
At the end of your breath out, the 150 ml of dead space is filled with “used” air. It has about 5% carbon dioxide and 16% oxygen with 100% humidity. And this is the first air that goes back into the alveoli. 350 ml follows it, but because 150 ml fills the dead space, there’s only 200 ml of nice fresh air to fill your lungs and keep you alive.
Let’s run that tape again. Out of 500 ml, 150 is old dead space air, and 150 is new dead space air, leaving 200 ml of fresh air for your body to use. This is scientific fact. So what happens when you wear a mask?
The air space between the mask and your face is on the order of 50 ml. It could be a little more or less, but that’s not important to what we’re about to discover. That 50 ml is mechanical dead space. Air has to fill it up before it can get to your anatomic dead space that we’ve already talked about. And that means that at the end of your breath you don’t have 150 ml filled with old air, you have 200 ml filled with old air that is loaded with carbon dioxide and has its oxygen depleted. Oops.
When you breathe in that 500 ml of air, the first 200 ml, not 150, are old. Of the 300 ml that follows, 200 fills up the dead space, leaving only 100 ml of fresh air for your lungs. 100 ml. That’s it. Without a mask, you had 200 ml, but now that’s been cut in half. You’ve got a real problem.
When Lincoln Park, New Jersey police reported on a driver who passed out and crashed while wearing a mask, they attributed it to high carbon dioxide and low oxygen, directly resulting from mask wearing while driving. They were probably at least half right.
Ten percent of the population suffer from Altitude/Mountain Sickness, where their bodies don’t properly respond to low oxygen by breathing harder. AMS causes a series of very bad things, one of which is drowsiness. This is probably why she crashed. And based on the math we just went through, it was entirely predictable.
Your body doesn’t just take low oxygen and high carbon dioxide lying down. For the 90% not affected by AMS, the low oxygen in the mask drives you to breathe harder. The rest of us will try to overcome the high carbon dioxide by breathing harder. But this work of breathing is uncomfortable, and will leave many with a mild feeling of shortness of breath and somewhat elevated blood levels of CO2. This then causes vessels in the brain to dilate, causing headaches.
I didn’t tumble to this physiology right away. But something in conversation caught my ear, and then I had to wear a mask for several hours during a hospital visit. The first thing I did on leaving was what I had done every time I stepped out of the operating room. I took the mask down. And that’s why we see so many people with the mask over their mouth but not their nose, or around their neck, or…
Mask wearing is not innocuous. It may actually increase the chance of becoming infected. And it definitely creates hypoxia and hypercarbia. Those can lead to headaches, somnolence, poor decision-making and accidents operating equipment. Since masks have no benefits and real risks, why are we being told that we must wear them everywhere?
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