No, masks are not for harmful to health

There are no studies concluding that the use of masks can cause any type of health problem of respiratory nature


A video is circulating on social networks in which a man self-identifying as Stefano Montanari, and who claims to be a nanopathologist, affirms that, by using the masks, “the carbonic oxid re-enters our blood”, which intoxicates and promotes diseases as cancer. This is FALSE: wearing a mask does not cause us to inhale an excess of CO2, nor does it cause acidosis or a too low pH.

"The carbonic oxid (CO2) re-enters into our blood, and […] instead of providing the oxygen it needs, we are giving carbon dioxide, which is ‘poo’, the waste from which it has previously tried to get rid of previously. All this causes hypercapnia, that is, too much carbon dioxide (CO2) in the blood".

Already in June 2020, several verification agencies pointed out that Montanari’s statements lacked scientific basis, but a video of him is once again circulating on WhatsApp.

Hipercapnia takes place when one can not breathe in a regular way and carbon dioxide levels in the bloodstream increase, making the equilibrium of blood pH more acidic, according to the US medical website WebMD. Among the symptoms, anxiety, headache, and respiratory difficulties are highlighted.

No respiratory problems

However, there are no studies concluding that the use of masks can cause any type of health problem of respiratory nature: “Several research teams have explored it”, points Adelaida Sarukhan, scientific writer at the Barcelona Institute of Global Health (ISGlobal in Catalan).

One of them, performed in 2012, “found that no physiological changes occur in people who have been working with the mask for an hour”, indicates the expert. A more recent one, published by scientists from Miami (US), specifically centered in evaluating how changes in oxygen and carbon dioxide were in healthy people, and veterans with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (EPOC in Spanish), who have respiratory difficulties, during the use of quirurgic masks. They found that the effects were minimal, even in people with deficient lung function: “These data indicate that the gas interchange is not affected significantly by the use of the quirurgic mask, even in people with severe lung insufficiency”, claims the study, published in the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society. According to the authors, such results “are in agreement with a previous observation in 20 healthy volunteers who used a quirurgic mask for an hour with moderate working rates”, and in which slight increases in the physiological responses which were not considered of clinical importance.

In fact, there was a debate months ago about whether masks should be also used by patients with respiratory problems, to which some organisations, as the Spanish Society of Pneumology and Thoracic Surgery (SEPAR in Spanish) and the Spanish Federation of Associations of Allergic Patients and Respiratory Diseases (FENAER in Spanish), insisted that “there was no scientific evidence to support this exception and that patients with a respiratory disease, if infected, have a high risk of suffering severe COVID-19”.

FFP2 masks

The problem of masks is that they are “a physical barrier, which gives us heat or a choking sensation; this “delays the entry of air, but does not mean that you are choking”, says Judit Villar, infectologist at “Hospital del Mar”. This sensation can happen especially with FFP2 masks, the more dense, which are usually recommended for use in professional environments.

Elsewhere in the video, the alleged nanopathologist insists in that hypercapnia produced by the use of the mask causes acidosis, that is, according to him, “too low pH in our blood”, and that it is a condition “ideal for some diseases'' such as “cancer”. Yes, hypercapnia can produce acidosis, and this in turn is related to the development of cancer, but the use of masks does not cause hypercapnia in healthy people, and therefore not to the development of acidosis either.