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Doctor proves with simple experiment that wearing a mask doesn't deprive you of oxygen

With anti-maskers claiming you don't get enough oxygen when wearing a mask, one doctor decided to set the record straight with a simple experiment proving how and why that's simply not true.

Doctor proves with simple experiment that wearing a mask doesn't deprive you of oxygen
Cover Image Source: Facebook/Megan Hall

As we near just about half a year of living in these pandemic times, those hellbent on ignoring scientific evidence, experienced professionals, and ever-rising death tolls have used up every excuse under the sky for not wearing masks. With complaints about supposedly not getting enough oxygen topping the list, one doctor decided to set the record straight with a simple experiment proving how and why that's simply not true. Dr. Megan Hall took to Facebook earlier this week with four scenarios—not wearing a mask, wearing a surgical mask, wearing an N95 mask, and wearing both an N95 and surgical mask. 


I have seen numerous posts and heard people complain they "can't breathe with a mask on" or they won't wear one because "oxygen levels drop dramatically while wearing a mask." Also, "a mask doesn't protect you from breathing in the virus" but in the same sentence argue they won't wear one because they are "rebreathing their exhaled carbon dioxide," she wrote. I'm not sure how one can even make sense of this theory; if you really believe the virus is penetrating the mask and you're breathing it in, how do you also believe your exhaled CO2 is getting "stuck?" Viruses need a vector to spread, COVID-19's vector is respiratory droplets, those droplets aren't readily getting through a properly worn mask.


Below is me in 4 scenarios. I wore each mask for 5 minutes and checked my oxygen saturation (shown as the percentage below) along with my heart rate (HR, in beats per minute) using noninvasive pulse oximetry. Keep in mind, immediately prior to this, I had been wearing the surgical mask for 5 hours, Hall explained. Here's what she found: Her oxygen level measured at 98 percent when not wearing a mask while her heart rate was 64 beats per minute. The oxygen level remained unchanged when wearing a surgical mask while her heart rate measured at 68 bpm. In the N95 mask and N95 plus surgical mask scenarios, her oxygen levels and heart rate measured at 99 percent and 69 bpm respectively.


There is no significant change in my oxygen saturation (or HR) in any scenario. Though maybe inconvenient for some, you can still breathe, Hall wrote. As a physician, I urge you and ask you to please wear a mask to protect yourself and those who cannot safely wear a mask (many of my patients because they are under 2 years old). Unless you are face down with a knee on your neck, I’m confident you can still breathe.


Dr. Hall's experiment is all the more pertinent at this time when an anti-mask movement seems to be gaining strength. After a local commission in Palm Beach County in Florida unanimously voted to make masks mandatory, angry residents went on a hilarious tirade on how the law is a threat to "God's wonderful breathing system." Yup, those words actually come out of someone's mouth. "You literally cannot mandate somebody to wear a mask knowing that that mask is killing people," said one woman. "It literally is killing people. And my, the people, we the people, are waking up, and we know what citizen’s arrest is because citizen’s arrests are already happening."


"And every single one of you who are obeying the devil's laws are going to be arrested," she added. Meanwhile, another enraged resident made a lot of claims which although technically true, came across as more ironic than helpful to her case. "The problem with humanity today is ignorance, arrogance, and apathy," she said. "Keep taking the road of least resistance, keep listening to the TV brainwashing you from birth." Umm, what are the odds her anti-mask stance is based on internet conspiracy theories?


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