Results of a clinical trial conducted earlier this year found that wearing a face mask for just three minutes had “adverse effects” on children and could lead to breathing problems.
The research letter which is titled “Experimental Assessment of Carbon Dioxide Content in Inhaled Air With or Without Face Masks in Healthy Children” detailed the results of a randomised clinical trial which was carried out on the 9th and 10th April 2021 and included 45 children.
The study was carried out by a team of seven researchers including Harald Walach, PhD., Ronald Weikl, MD., and Juliane Prentice, BA.
The letter detailed that many governments around the world have made “nose and mouth coverings and or face masks compulsory for schoolchildren”, and that the “evidence base” for this is “weak.”
According to the letter, a large-scale survey in Germany of adverse effects of carbon dioxide inhalation for parents and children wearing face masks – using data of 25,930 – showed that 68% of the participating children had breathing problems when wearing face coverings.
As a result, the German Federal Environmental Office has stated that a level of 0.2% by volume of carbon dioxide or 2000 ppm is the limit for closed rooms – the normal content of carbon dioxide in the open is about 0.004% by volume (ie, 400 ppm) – and anything beyond this level is deemed unacceptable.
During the study, researchers measured the carbon dioxide level in inhaled air with and without two types of face coverings in a controlled and well-ventilated room, using healthy volunteer children. Researchers measured the baseline carbon dioxide levels without a face mask for three minutes, then a nine-minute measurement for each type of face mask was conducted: three minutes to measure the carbon dioxide content in joint inhaled and exhaled air, and three minutes for measuring carbon dioxide content during exhalation.
The carbon dioxide content of the ambient air was always kept under 0.1% by volume using ventilators within the room. According to the research letter, the sequence of masks was always randomised, which was “blinded and stratified by age of children.”
During the research letter, the researchers stated that the mean age of the children was 10.7 (2.6) years (range, 6-17 years) out of the 20 girls and 25 boys. The only impact on the results appeared to be the age of the children as this had a small impact on the carbon dioxide content in inhaled air, however, the use of two different types of face masks had no impact on the carbon dioxide content inhalation.
During the study, researchers measured means between 13120 (384) and 13910 (374) ppm of carbon dioxide in inhaled air under surgical and filtering facepiece 2 (FFP2) masks, which researchers stated: “is higher than what has already been deemed unacceptable by the German Federal Environmental Office by a factor of 6.”
This worryingly high value was reached after only three minutes of measurement, yet children under normal conditions in schools wear face masks for “a mean of 270 (interquartile range, 120-390) minutes.”
According to the figure pictured above, the value of the child with the lowest carbon dioxide level was three-fold greater than the limit of 0.2% by volume. Additionally, the youngest children in the study had the highest values, with one seven-year-old child’s carbon dioxide level measured at 25,000 ppm.
The researchers concluded that the complaints that the children made during the study were “consequences of elevated carbon dioxide levels in inhaled air” due to the “dead-space volume of the masks, which collects exhaled carbon dioxide quickly after a short time.” The carbon dioxide collected in the mask then mixes with the fresh air remaining under the mask and elevates the carbon dioxide content of inhaled air under the mask, which researchers noted was more pronounced in this study for younger children.
Disturbingly, the effects of carbon dioxide inhalation through face masks lead to “impairments attributable to hypercapnia.” Hypercapnia is where there is too much carbon dioxide present in the bloodstream, which can cause symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, and shortness of breath. However, severe hypercapnia can be life-threatening if not treated and can cause symptoms such as seizures, panic attacks, and loss of consciousness.
In conclusion, the researchers advised that decision-makers explored the evidence produced by studies such as this, which clearly show that children should not be forced to wear face masks.
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