Wearing a Mask Can Harm Your Health

June 9, 2020 | By Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D |


“I just don’t get it. Why don’t you want to wear a mask?”

It’s not just that masks most likely don’t work to stop the spread of coronavirus. Wearing a mask can harm your health.

Earlier this month an Australian news outlet reported that two 14-year-old Chinese boys collapsed and died six days apart while exercising wearing masks.

“It happened within two to three minutes during his physical training class. He was wearing a mask while lapping the running track, then he suddenly fell backwards and hit his head on the ground. I suspect it was because he was wearing a mask,” one of the grieving fathers told reporters.

Both handmade cloth masks and N95 masks can severely limit oxygen intake, making breathing more difficult.

9 ways that wearing a mask can harm your health:

  1. Wearing a mask reduces blood oxygenation, especially in people over 35. Indeed, a team of researchers from the Department of Neurosurgery at Ufuk University in Ankara, Turkey reported that the longer a mask is worn the more the blood is desaturated. These researchers also assert that: “Surgeons in the operating room frequently experience physical discomfort, fatigue, and possibly even deterioration of surgical judgment and performance. Although considerable information exists about the effects of ambient environment on both mental and physical performance, the final “personal” environment for the surgeon beneath the surgical mask is often very inadequately conditioned…it is known that heat and moisture trapping occur beneath surgical masks…” (source).
  2. Wearing a mask increases blood carbon dioxide levels. Citing four different scientific studies, Dr. Zheng Zhaoshi, PH.D. M.D. at the Department of Neurology, The Third Hospital of Jilin University, “Oxygen concentration inhaled by healthy subjects wearing a surgical mask covering an N95 respirator decreases to about 17%, and the concentration of carbon dioxide increases to about 1.2% – 3% in a short period of light work (2-3). Although participants did not show any obvious changes in physical function and did not have any discomfort ratings, the average carbon dioxide concentration inhaled was far higher than the limit of 0.1% of indoor carbon dioxide concentration in many countries. With prolonged mask wearing, untoward reactions may gradually appear. In another long-term study, after wearing an N95 mask for 12 hours the CO2 concentration of subjects increased to 41.0 mmHg, far higher than the baseline value of 32.4mm Hg at the beginning of the test (4). The subjects mainly reported headache, dizziness, feeling tired and communication obstacles. In real life, the situations and time of wearing masks are much longer than the above experimental research settings” (source).
  3. Wearing a mask increases risk of headaches (source).
  4. It also increases risk of brain fog, difficulty concentrating, and exhaustion, most likely due to insufficient oxygen and increased exposure to carbon dioxide.
  5. Masks made overseas have been found to be faulty and inadequate. Nearly all of them contain known carcinogens. This is why there is a warning label on the carton. Breathing in carcinogens during the day and having them in contact with your skin may increase your risk of cancer.
  6. Masks may increase your risk of infection, mostly because they are worn inappropriately, and also because mask-wearers fiddle with them, frequently touching their face. There is no scientific evidence that shows that cloth masks will help reduce the spread of COVID-19, according to Lisa Brousseau, ScD, and  (source).
  7. Wearing a mask concentrates the exhaled viruses in the nasal passages. Our bodies have several effective detoxifications pathways. One of the ways we rid ourselves of a viral infection is by exhaling. If you are sick with COVID-19 or any other viral infection, the last thing you want to do is impede your ability to breathe (source).
  8. Wearing a mask causes problems for people with special needs. Deaf people who rely on lip reading, people with autism who have trouble understanding verbal cues and need visual cues to help them, and anyone who is hard of hearing suffer the most when people are wearing masks (source).
  9. Wearing a mask can cause severe and painful contact dermatitis, painful rashes, and other skin damage on your face (source).

Russell Blaylock, M.D., a retired neurosurgeon, does not mince words about how wearing a mask can harm your health. Especially if worn for extended periods, while exercising, or in hot weather, face masks can be deadly.

“In essence, your mask may very well put you at an increased risk of infections, and if so, having a much worse outcome,” Blaylock writes (my emphasis.)

Paul Thomas, M.D., a Dartmouth-trained pediatrician with over 30 years of medical experience, agrees. Wearing a mask “promotes fear, which we know is bad for the immune system,” Thomas, who is also my colleague and co-author, says. “It reduces breathing in fresh air, which is also bad for the immune system, and it does little to nothing to prevent spread of a virus.”

Yesterday at the grocery store where about a third of the shoppers were wearing masks, one customer abruptly pulled up his mask to sneeze, spreading aerosolized mucus everywhere. He then put his mask back on. He probably just had seasonal allergies but perhaps he was sick. In either case, sneezing violently outside the mask without using a tissue certainly looked like an unhygienic and surefire way to potentially spread infection. The man, seeming uncomfortable and embarrassed, then put what one can only imagine was a now mucus-laden mask back on his face.

I’ve seen people wearing masks while running uphill on nature trials with no other human in sight. I’ve seen people wearing face masks while driving. This New Jersey driver wearing an N95 mask passed out and crashed his car. I’ve seen people wearing masks while riding bicycles, close to no one. And wearing them while by themselves weeding in the garden.

If it makes you feel better to wear a mask, wear one. That’s your right. But, as Patricia Neuenschwander, R.N., explores in this article, there is no compelling scientific evidence that shows that healthy people should be wearing masks. Informed Choice Washington has condensed Neuenschwander’s article into a helpful 1-page handout, which you can print out and share with your mask-loving friends. Yes to wearing your face mask loudly and proudly if that’s what you prefer. But stop shaming those of us who are more interested in science than in virtue signaling and who choose not to jeopardize our health or yours by wearing masks.

Related articles:
The Super Powers of the Coronavirus
It’s Hard to Know What to Believe
No, Dick, the Science Isn’t Settled
Baja California’s First COVID-19 Case
Life in Lockdown in Italy
Do Healthy People Need to Wear Masks?
An Alternative to Social Distancing

About Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D.

Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., is an investigative journalist, book author, and Fulbright awardee. She is the author of Your Baby, Your Way: Taking Charge of Your Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Parenting Decisions for a Happier, Healthier Family, co-author (with Paul Thomas, M.D.) of The Vaccine-Friendly Plan, and The Addiction Spectrum: A Compassionate, Holistic Approach to Recovery. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.