CLEVELAND (WJW) — What started with a viral video has now become a published medical study revealing whether or not masks are safe to wear.
“I noted lots of people who were resistant to wearing masks, and it sounded like one of the concerns that people had was that they wouldn’t be able to breathe effectively, essentially couldn’t get oxygen in and couldn’t get carbon dioxide out,” said Dr. Steve Shein, Division Chief of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.
In the video posted on Facebook last summer, Dr. Shein hooked himself up to sensors and then put on one, then two, and finally three masks while on an exercise bike.
Although his numbers remained the same the entire time, he admitted that the results weren’t exactly scientific.
“So being a clinical researcher I decided to actually test it in a scientific study,” said Dr. Shein.
The study researching the impact of face masks on heart rate and oxygenation was published online Wednesday.
Dr. Shein explained how they used 50 volunteers from the hospital with a median age of 33.
Thirty-two percent of the participants had underlying medical conditions including but not limited to asthma, hypertension, and hyperthyroidism.
First they would sit for ten minutes and then they would walk briskly for ten minutes.
“And they all a sensor that measures oxygen levels and CO2 levels and heart rate in real-time and we measured those levels not wearing a mask, wearing a cloth mask and wearing a surgical mask,” said Dr. Shein.
Across the board he says, although their heart rates went up from 73.2 to 101.2, everything else remained virtually the same. Both oxygen levels and CO2 tension remained nearly identical with and without the masks.
They concluded that the risk of wearing a mask to the general adult population is near zero and masks are also considered safe for most children too.
“What our study shows is that their oxygen levels and carbon dioxide levels don’t get affected by wearing a mask,” said Dr. Shein. “And if your child is old enough and has the coordination to be able to remove the mask if there is reason to do so, then they should be safe to wear a mask.”
He says the only exceptions would be those with some serious health conditions like lung cancer and COPD.
Anyone else who is still concerned is advised to see their doctor. He says they can perform blood oxygen tests to alleviate any fears and/or catch any issues.
“And, if it’s safe for you, I’d encourage you to wear one,” said Dr. Shein. “Wearing a mask is one of the best defenses we have against the virus.”
You can watch the video he did of the mask test, here.