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    • #15421
      Jenny Livingston

      Here I am, once again posting about the thing I swore I was done posting about. But I have a serious question, and this is a community uniquely qualified to answer it.

      A few weeks ago, after reading several claims that masks restrict oxygen intake and people with respiratory illnesses could be putting themselves in danger by wearing them, I conducted a little experiment. I wore a variety of masks for 15-20 minutes at a time, while periodically checking my O2 saturation. To make things more interesting, I increased the intensity of my breathing by walking around my yard watering plants, doing dishes, taking a load of laundry both up and down a flight of stairs, jogging in place, and doing a round of squats. (I was very serious about this experiment!)

      What I found was that even when my heartrate increased, my oxygen levels never dipped. They stayed between 97-98 regardless of the type of mask or my level of activity. However, when I shared these results, I had a couple friends message me to let me know that they actually do experience desaturation and extreme breathing difficulties.

      So here’s my question… (and remember, this is a completely judgement free space, so please be honest).

      Do you find it difficult to breathe in a mask? Do your oxygen levels decline when you wear one? Are you someone who experiences complications when wearing masks?

    • #15440
      Jason Schwefel

      I myself do have issues breathing through a bandana and a surgical or medical mask. However, I am also in fairly good CF shape lower 60’s / high 50’s PFTs, with running miles a week and swimming many laps a wekk in the pool, well, that was until Covid hit!

      I tried this same test on myself, 3 different styles of masks but for only 5 minutes a crack while resting in an air conditioned room. My results were like yours, it didn’t change.

      Now, we did this same test on a non-CF male and he wore a mask for an hour while performing work activities out on our assembly plant foor that was not atomsphere controlled. His pulse OX was tested before and after teh hour. His pulse OX level was significantly lower after the hour of completing typical work tasks. I believe it was in the mid to high 80’s. From this it seems that it takes awhile for your body to adjust to the lower oxygen levels and process through the oxygen that the system still has and will eventaully over time and displaced by more carbon dioxide? I’m not sure of about the body’s exchange rate of oxygen to carbon dioxide and vice versa. SAo again I’m not 100% sure on that, this is just my own theory.

      We also did another similar test. We took a 4-gas air monitor, one of the gases it measures is oxygen for proper concentrations when entering a Confined Space per OSHA regulations. OSHA regulation states the ambient oxygen concentration must not go below 19.5% oxygen, if this happens you MUST BY LAW exit the confined space immediately as this is an IDLH (immediately dangerous to life and health) atmosphere, as a benchmark normal “air” has 20.8% oxygen concentration. So, a fellow co-worker (and in-shape female) and I ran this experiment; we each did a 1-minute step test on set of stairs in approximately 80 degree, semi-humid, non-air conditioned atmosphere and we measured the oxygen concentration inside the mask at the corner of our mouth. Both of us wore a different style of mask for each test and we each tested 3 different styles of masks. With each mask it didn’t matter what the style of mask was the oxygen concentration inside the mask dropped down to approximately 18% oxygen (give or take) concentartionin in under 10 seconds. During the testing of the 3 different styles of masks the lowest we saw was a 16.5% oxygen concentration and the average was approximately 17.5% oxygen concentration. Now, remember what OSHA says about an atmosphere below 19.5% oxygen concentration???

      With this being said what is going to be the long-term side effects of wearing a mask 8 hrs., 10 hrs. or 12-hours a day over a course of weeks, months and maybe a year while exerting phycial activity, in a non-controlled, non-air conditioned atmosphere? What would the long-term effects be on a CF patient? What about an older, out of shape individual? I guess this all remains yet to be seen, but I’m afraid we will find out probably sooner than later!

      By the way, I have been in the safety field since 1998 and worked with industrial hygiene monitoring programs, reviews and monitoring the past 16 years.

      Just my experience and information collected from our self-tests.

    • #15441
      Jenny Livingston

      @schwefs this is incredibly interesting to me! Thank you so much for sharing this with us! You present some valid points and thought-provoking questions.

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