(Arjun Walia) A large meta analysis recently published in the Journal Environmental Research and Public Health titled, “Is a Mask That Covers the Mouth and Nose Free from Undesirable Side Effects in Everyday Use and Free of Potential Hazards?” looked at 65 studies pertaining to prolonged mask wearing to examine whether or not there may be any health consequences.
by Arjun Walia, April 29th, 2021
Prolonged mask wearing is a new phenomenon, it’s something we’ve never really seen en masse before. Today, mask mandates are spread across the globe in multiple countries, mostly if you’re inside a public space, like a school, bank or business for example. For workers who are not working from home, masks are still worn throughout the day in many countries around the world. Since the beginning of the pandemic a number of scientists and researchers have published papers in medical/scientific journals creating cause for concern around this practice. Many even became quite active on social media expressing their concerns with mandatory mask measures as it pertains to human health.
This in turn sparked mass ridicule from organizations like the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) and other government health authorities who claimed, and continue to, that prolonged mask wearing is completely safe and there’s nothing to worry about. But is that really true? How do we know? Are there any side effects?
One of the challenges in answering the question of do ‘masks work to stop COVID spread’ is that the “yes” narrative is given so much attention, while the “no” narrative is ridicule, ignored, and in many cases deemed a “conspiracy theory.” Later in this piece I will get more into the discussion of whether masks work to stop the spread of COVID, but first let’s explore what this meta analysis says about the side effects of long term mask wearing.
According to the authors:
Up until now, there has been no comprehensive investigation as to the adverse health effects masks can cause. The aim was to find, test, evaluate and compile scientifically proven related side effects of wearing masks. For a quantitative evaluation, 44 mostly experimental studies were referenced, and for a substantive evaluation, 65 publications were found. The literature revealed relevant adverse effects of masks in numerous disciplines.
In the paper the authors provide a wealth of data and evidence for psychological and physiological deterioration that are quite consistent, statistically significant, and measurable throughout multiple studies when it comes to extended mask use. They believe that “extended mask-wearing by the general population could lead to relevant effects and consequences in many medical fields.”
So where is the evidence? It’s outlined quite well in the paper. If you’d like to get a full scope of the health harms that can result from extended periods of mask wearing, I suggest you go through it. This article simply provides a brief summary, so it’s important to refer to the study.
The researchers discovered and confirmed that “relevant, undesired medical, organ, and organ system-related phenomena by wearing masks occur in multiple fields of internal medicine.” These fields are neurology, psychology, psychiatry, gynecology, dermatology, ENT medicine, dentistry, sports medicine, sociology, microbiology, epidemiology, pediatrics and environmental medicine.
They then go through each of these fields and explain what they found. There are clear, statistically significant, and concerning findings, especially when it comes to respiratory physiology.
For example, when it comes to the pediatric section, they explain:
Children are particularly vulnerable and may be more likely to receive inappropriate treatment or additional harm…Special attention must be paid to the respiration of children, which represents a critical and vulnerable physiological variable due to higher oxygen demand, increased hypoxia susceptibility of the CNS, lower respiratory reserve, smaller airways with a stronger increase in resistance when the lumen is narrowed. The diving reflex caused by stimulating the nose and upper lip can cause respiratory arrest to bradycardia in the event of oxygen deficiency.
In an experimental British research study, the masks frequently led to feelings of heat (p <0001) and breathing problems (p < 0.03) in 100 school children between 8 and 11 years of age especially during physical exertion, which is why the protective equipment was taken off by 24% of the children during physical activity.
Scientists from Singapore were able to demonstrate in their Ib study published in the renowned journal “nature” that 106 children aged between 7 and 14 years who wore FFP2 masks for only 5 min showed an increase in the inspiratory and expiratory CO2 levels, indicating disturbed respiratory physiology. However, a disturbed respiratory physiology in children can have long-term disease-relevant consequences. Slightly elevated CO2 levels are known to increase heart rate, blood pressure, headache, fatigue and concentration disorders.
It is also important to emphasize the possible effects of masks in neurological diseases, as described earlier. Both masks and face shields caused fear in 46% of children (37 out of 80) in a scientific study. If children are given the choice of whether the doctor examining them should wear a mask they reject this in 49% of the cases. Along with their parents, the children prefer the practitioner to wear a face visor.
A recent observational study of tens of thousands of mask-wearing children in Germany helped the investigators objectify complains of headaches (53%), difficulty concentrating (50%), joylessness (49%), learning difficulties (38%) and fatigue in 27 % of the 25, 930 children evaluated. Of the children observed, 25% had new onset anxiety and even nightmares. In children, the threat of scenarios generated by the environment are further maintained via masks, in some cases, even further intensified, and in this way, existing stress is intensified.
This can in turn lead to an increase in psychosomatic and stress-related illnesses. For example, according to an evaluation, 60% of mask wearers showed stress levels of the highest grade 10 on a scale of 1 to a maximum of 10. Less than 10% of the mask wearers surveyed had a stress level lower than 8 out of a possible 10.
As children are considered a special group, the WHO also issued a separate guideline on the use of masks in children in the community in August 2020, explicitly advising policy maker and national authorities, given the limited evidence, that the benefits of mask use in children must be weighed up against the potential harms associated with mask use. This includes feasibility and discomfort, as well as social and communication concerns.
According to experts, masks block the foundations of human communication and the exchange of emotions and not only hinder learning but deprive children of the positive effects of smiling, laughing and and emotional mimicry. The effectiveness of masks in children as a viral protection is controversial, and there is a lack of evidence for their widespread use in children; this is also addressed in more detail by the scientists of the German University of Bremen in their thesis paper 2.0 and 3.0.
Keep in mind that pediatrics is one of twelve areas where they found significant concerns. I suggest you refer to the study to go through the others.
This data is quite eye opening and really makes you wonder how well thought out these mandates are, and what long term consequences they could have. With nobody really paying attention to these concerns, if there are consequences of extended periods of mask wearing, will the connection between the masks and the consequences ever be made? Again, this may be difficult due to the ridiculing of any evidence, opinion, and discussion around this, which is why we have chosen to cover these topics.
As the researchers state:
Long-term disease-relevant consequences of masks are to be expected. Insofar, the statistically significant results found in the studies with mathematically tangible differences between mask wearers and people without masks are clinically relevant. They give an indication that with correspondingly repeated and prolonged exposure to physical, chemical, biological, physiological and psychological conditions, some of which are subliminal, but which are significantly shifted towards pathological areas, health-reducing changes and clinical pictures can develop such as high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis, including coronary heart disease (metabolic syndrome) as well as neurological diseases.
For small increases in carbon dioxide in the inhaled air, this disease-promoting effect has been proven with the creation of headaches, irritation of the respiratory tract up to asthma as well as an increase in blood pressure and heart rate with vascular damage and, finally, neuropathological and cardiovascular consequences . Even slightly but persistently increased heart rates encourage oxidative stress with endothelial dysfunction, via increased inflammatory messengers, and finally, the stimulation of arteriosclerosis of the blood vessels has been proven. A similar effect with the stimulation of high blood pressure, cardiac dysfunction and damage to blood vessels supplying the brain is suggested for slightly increased breathing rates over long periods. Masks are responsible for the aforementioned physiological changes with rises in inhaled carbon dioxide and small sustained increases in heart rate and mild but sustained increases in respiratory rates.
For changes that do not exceed normal values, but are persistently recurring, such as an increase in blood carbon dioxide, an increase in heart rate or an increase in respiratory rate , which have been documented while wearing a mask, a long-term generation of high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis and coronary heart disease and of neurological diseases is scientifically obvious. This pathogenetic damage principle with a chronic low-dose exposure with long-term effect, which leads to disease or disease-relevant conditions, has already been extensively studied and described in many areas of environmental medicine . Extended mask-wearing would have the potential, according to the facts and correlations we have found, to cause a chronic sympathetic stress response induced by blood gas modifications and controlled by brain centers. This in turn induces and triggers immune suppression and metabolic syndrome with cardiovascular and neurological diseases.
In summary, the authors feel that the typical conditions that have been documented include increase in breathing resistance, blood carbon dioxide, decrease in blood oxygen saturation, increase in heart rate, blood pressure, decrease in cardiopulmonary capacity, increase in respiratory rate, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, headache, dizziness, decreased ability to concentrate and think and more. All these and more can lead to serious health outcomes.
Why This Is Important: This is important because long term mask wearing is being mandated and the health consequences may be great. Questioning this helps us ask whether or not our government and health authorities are doing their due diligence when it comes to protecting our health. Furthermore, the idea that masks help to stop the transmission of COVID is a heavily debated topic, suggesting that ignoring this data could be extra costly.
The researchers of this particular meta-analysis outline a significant amount of evidence that calls into question the ability for facemasks to protect somebody from COVID, as well as stop the spread of the virus. There is no shortage of peer-reviewed medical literature showing that masks are not effective, while on the other hand there is research that claims they work. The only difference is that research that shows they are effective is usually what’s presented by mainstream media and mass culture, while the research showing they are not effective is ignored.
Below is a brief explanation from the researchers. Overall, they show that the evidence for the effectiveness of masks to stop the spread and transmission of COVID is weak, and that the perceived effectiveness is mostly a psychological belief:
In a laboratory experiment, it was demonstrated that both surgical masks and N95 masks have deficits in protection against SARS-COV-2 and influenza using virus-free aerosols. In this study, the FFP2-equivalent N95 mask performed significantly better in protection that the surgical mask, but neither mask type established reliable, hypothesis-generated protection against corona and influenza viruses. Both mask types could be penetrated unhindered by aerosol particles with a diameter of 0.08 to 0.2 μm. Both the SARS-CoV-2 pathogens with a size of 0.06 to 0.14 μm and the influenza viruses with 0.08 to 0.12 μm are unfortunately well below the mask pore sizes.
In a meta-analysis of evidence level Ia commissioned by the WHO, no effect of masks in the context of influenza virus pandemic prevention could be demonstrated. In 14 randomized controlled trials, no reduction in the transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza infections was shown. Due to the similar size and distribution pathways of the virus species (influenza and Corona, see above), the data can also be transferred to SARS-CoV-2. Nevertheless, a combination of occasional mask-wearing with adequate hand-washing caused a slight reduction in infections for influenza in one study. However, since no separation of hand hygiene and masks was achieved in this study, the protective effect can rather be attributed to hand hygiene in view of the aforementioned data.
A recently published large prospective Danish comparative study comparing mask wearers and non-mask wearers in terms of their infection rates with SARS-CoV2 could not demonstrate any statistically significant differences between the groups.
One paper titled “Facemasks in the COVID-19 era: A health hypothesis” concludes:
The existing scientific evidences challenge the safety and efficacy of wearing facemask as preventive intervention for COVID-19. The data suggest that both medical and non-medical facemasks are ineffective to block human-to-human transmission of viral and infectious disease such SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, supporting against the usage of facemasks. Wearing facemasks has been demonstrated to have substantial adverse physiological and psychological effects. These include hypoxia, hypercapnia, shortness of breath, increased acidity and toxicity, activation of fear and stress response, rise in stress hormones, immunosuppression, fatigue, headaches, decline in cognitive performance, predisposition for viral and infectious illnesses, chronic stress, anxiety and depression. Long-term consequences of wearing facemask can cause health deterioration, developing and progression of chronic diseases and premature death. Governments, policy makers and health organizations should utilize prosper and scientific evidence-based approach with respect to wearing facemasks, when the latter is considered as preventive intervention for public health.
I’ve written about a study published in the New England Medical Journal by Harvard doctors that outlines how it’s already known that masks provide little to zero benefit when it comes to protection in a public setting. According to them:
We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection. Public health authorities define a significant exposure to Covid-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes). The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.
The papers cited above are a few of many, there are a plethora of them available within the scientific literature.
On the flip side, according to a press release by the University of California San Francisco,
There are several strands of evidence supporting the efficacy of masks.
One category of evidence comes from laboratory studies of respiratory droplets and the ability of various masks to block them. An experiment using high-speed video found that hundreds of droplets ranging from 20 to 500 micrometers were generated when saying a simple phrase, but that nearly all these droplets were blocked when the mouth was covered by a damp washcloth. Another study of people who had influenza or the common cold found that wearing a surgical mask significantly reduced the amount of these respiratory viruses emitted in droplets and aerosols.
But the strongest evidence in favor of masks come from studies of real-world scenarios. “The most important thing are the epidemiologic data,” said Rutherford. Because it would be unethical to assign people to not wear a mask during a pandemic, the epidemiological evidence has come from so-called “experiments of nature.”
A recent study published in Health Affairs, for example, compared the COVID-19 growth rate before and after mask mandates in 15 states and the District of Columbia. It found that mask mandates led to a slowdown in daily COVID-19 growth rate, which became more apparent over time. The first five days after a mandate, the daily growth rate slowed by 0.9 percentage-points compared to the five days prior to the mandate; at three weeks, the daily growth rate had slowed by 2 percentage-points.
Another study looked at coronavirus deaths across 198 countries and found that those with cultural norms or government policies favoring mask-wearing had lower death rates.
Two compelling case reports also suggest that masks can prevent transmission in high-risk scenarios, said Chin-Hong and Rutherford. In one case, a man flew from China to Toronto and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. He had a dry cough and wore a mask on the flight, and all 25 people closest to him on the flight tested negative for COVID-19. In another case, in late May, two hair stylists in Missouri had close contact with 140 clients while sick with COVID-19. Everyone wore a mask and none of the clients tested positive.
A Mayo Clinic study released November 24, 2020, whose “findings strongly support the protective value and effectiveness of widespread mask use and maintaining physical distance in helping to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.” The experimental study “emulated the production of respiratory droplets by using mannequins, that were masked and other mannequins that were unmasked and measured the spread of those droplets at various distances.”
This is what Matthew Callstrom, M.D., Ph.D., chairman of the department of radiology at the Mayo Clinic, said in a news release about the study he co-authored with Elie Berbari, M.D., chair of the department of infectious diseases at the institution.
We found the most important measure for reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is to wear a mask. We found that both disposable paper medical masks and two-layer cloth masks were effective in reducing droplet transmission and we did not find a difference between mask types in terms of how well they blocked aerosol particles emitted by the wearer.
The Takeaway: In an era where certain information is simply not presented to the masses, it’s important for various platforms to continue to share this information.
At the end of the day, it’s very difficult to determine who is right or wrong, which is why we need open dialogue. The fact that simple discussion and pieces of evidence that change the narrative, or threaten it, are being shut down, censored and completely ridiculed is quite concerning. The mainstream media continues to fail to have appropriate conversations surrounding all things COVID while forcing their opinion on the public. This in turn has created a great divide among the citizenry when really, we should all be coming together and respecting everybody’s decision to act as they please.
When things are not so cut and dry, should we give governments the ability to control our lives in the manner they have done with this pandemic? It’s a tough question, but one worth asking.
At the same time, things are getting to the point where more information seems unhelpful. No matter how much information and evidence is presented to support a particular idea, we’re always left with a divide among people. Why? What is happening in our thinking processes to create this? Can we really blame it all on “fake news” or are we starting to realize there are other factors at play?
Right now, the mainstream narrative suggests level 1 thinking: go to war with the virus. It does not consider long term consequences or a holistic approach to all things societally. Is this really effective? Perhaps we’re being asked to question that and mature in our thinking and decision making and perhaps do away with authoritarian mindsets.
We are at the point where we must be able to respect other people’s choices and the actions they choose to take without enforcing these actions on others who disagree. This, more important than who is right or wrong, is where we must meet each other.
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Stillness in the Storm Editor: Why did we post this?
The news is important to all people because it is where we come to know new things about the world, which leads to the development of more life goals that lead to life wisdom. The news also serves as a social connection tool, as we tend to relate to those who know about and believe the things we do. With the power of an open truth-seeking mind in hand, the individual can grow wise and the collective can prosper.
Not sure how to make sense of this? Want to learn how to discern like a pro? Read this essential guide to discernment, analysis of claims, and understanding the truth in a world of deception: 4 Key Steps of Discernment – Advanced Truth-Seeking Tools.
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