Vaccinated Americans can now feel comfortable shedding their masks indoors, according to CDC guidelines. Some of the country’s top docs, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, say masks may make seasonal returns to prevent colds and the flu.
Over the past year, Americans have covered up to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, but many people have been concerned masks would cause breathing issues.
Researchers at University Hospitals in Cleveland studied oxygen levels in adult mask-wearing volunteers to measure the impact on their respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
“We used a special medical probe that attaches to the forehead and it measures the oxygen levels, the subjects carbon dioxide level and also measures the heart rate too.” said Dr. Steven Shein, Pediatric Critical Care at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospitals.
Doctors ran the tests under three conditions. They had participants sit quietly and then walk briskly without a mask, raising their heart rate. On average, 30%.
Then, the participants repeated the sequence with a cloth mask and again with a surgical mask.
“We thought it was really important to test both cloth masks and surgical masks. Importantly, we had people bring in their own cloth masks. So, this was not some, like, special thing that it was super thin. In both parts of this study, both with the cloth mask and with the surgical mask, we didn’t find any difference. The heart rate stayed the same, oxygen level stayed the same, and carbon dioxide levels all stayed the same.” Dr. Shein said.
Researchers say the risk to the general mask-wearing adult population of having abnormal oxygen or carbon dioxide levels is near zero.