New research published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) has found that wearing a face mask causes children to inhale dangerous levels of carbon dioxide that becomes trapped behind the mask.
The peer-reviewed research letter from Dr Harald Walach and colleagues found that the air masked children inhaled contained more than six times the legal safe limit for closed rooms as set down by the German Federal Environmental Office. The safe limit is 0.2%, whereas the air the masked children inhaled contained over 1.3% carbon dioxide.
The effect was worse for younger children, with one seven year-old child inhaling air with 2.5% carbon dioxide, over 12 times the safe limit.
The study looked at two types of mask, FFP2 masks and surgical masks, and found no significant difference between the two.
The authors explained that this alarming result likely explains the complaints from children who wear face masks for long periods.
Most of the complaints reported by children can be understood as consequences of elevated carbon dioxide levels in inhaled air. This is because of the dead-space volume of the masks, which collects exhaled carbon dioxide quickly after a short time. This carbon dioxide mixes with fresh air and elevates the carbon dioxide content of inhaled air under the mask, and this was more pronounced in this study for younger children.
This leads in turn to impairments attributable to hypercapnia. A recent review concluded that there was ample evidence for adverse effects of wearing such masks. We suggest that decision-makers weigh the hard evidence produced by these experimental measurements accordingly, which suggest that children should not be forced to wear face masks.
With face masks shown to have little to no impact in reducing infection or transmission, this suggests the policy is all pain and no gain and should be abandoned without delay.
Read the study in full here.