N=1 test of mask wearing and hypoxia (aka "brain damage")

(Bob M) #1

So, my wife saw a post on Facebook (that thing I don’t have and probably won’t ever get) on a school’s Facebook page from a woman who posted a letter we should all be sending to the local elementary, middle, and high schools about covid. One of the rants was about masks and how they cause “brain damage”.

The engineer in my could not help but to test this theory. I live in CT and am an “essential” worker (not sure why; I’m a patent attorney and NEVER meet with clients). I go to work, and am required to wear a mask from my car to my office, and anytime I’m interacting with other people. (As a patent attorney, that’s not often, other than going to the restroom.)

This is the device I used, which is a Innovo Deluxe Pulse Oximeter with Plethysmograph and Perfusion Index:

I took the tests using the same finger (middle finger, right hand) only. I took the number that resulted after not too much time had elapsed. It was whatever it said. It might have gone up or down (usually, down), but I took the reading after about 15 seconds or so. The time was not exact - I just tried to take hourly.

I have a cloth mask that has a replaceable fiber liner inside it. If you want the exact make and model, I’ll have to get that from my wife.

On Monday and Tuesday, I wore my mask ONLY when required. On Wednesday and Thursday, I wore the mask from getting out of my car in the morning until I got back into my car at night.

On Wednesday and Thursday, I used a printer that was in a room separate from my office (I also have a printer in my office), so I walked quite a bit.

On Wednesday, I did not eat at work (OMAD at home), so I only took the mask off to drink. On Thursday, I exercised in the morning (which is why there are no early morning readings), and ate “lunch” (one of my two meals that day) at about 10:30 am. As soon as I was done eating, I put my mask on. The only time it was off on Thursday, therefore, was to eat and drink.

Here are the results:

For this mask and for my body, I have zero hypoxia.

Kids/young adults wearing masks should not have a problem.

(Bob M) #2

Oh, I should comment. Does wearing a mask suck? Yes, it does. I usually wear “computer” glasses that block a slight amount of blue and in general help clarify the image on a computer. Once you use these, it’s hard to go back to not using them. I could not determine how to wear them without getting them fogged up. I’ll try that next.

And, it’s harder to talk to people. Not impossible, but harder.

And, there is a relief when taking off the mask.

But I also have worn masks (n95s) for hours while doing projects around my house and having my heart rate go way up. I also did not pass out then, or even get light headed.

(Bunny) #3

Maybe your like one of those ketogenically adapted mice that can withstand hypoxia (resistant to brain damage) in the research?

[1] Adaptation to Chronic Hypoxia During Diet-Induced Ketosis - scientific discussion
[2] Adaptation to Chronic Hypoxia During Diet-Induced Ketosis


Thank you for doing that experiment and reporting your results! I was going to invest in an oximeter, but we keep selling out of those at work!
Our mask situation at work is mandatory too. We don’t have to wear them outside from the car to the store, but once in the store- mask on. It gets VERY warm and annoying the longer its on. When I’m in the pharmacy, I need to wear my glasses to read some of the labels, etc…and then the lenses get all fogged up. SO FRUSTRATING. The speed at which we work in there is insane currently. Right before holidays, everyone and their brother has to come in and get Rxs - so zipping around in a small, enclosed spaced, with a mask, foggy glasses and trying to dodge co-workers makes one FEEL a little dizzy and short fused, but not truly a medical issue. No one has fainted or anything.

I’ve had a variety of different masks- the N95’s, the cloth, the thin surgical paper ones, another cloth one designed like a turtle neck (that sucked, but was company mandated), and then finally a nicer cloth one from our company. None were successful with the lens fogging issue, but the last one is at least a bit more comfortable, albeit warm.

Its been around 100F here for a few days now, and everyone is a little irritable with the whole mask thing. Its just not a low-oxygen issue.

(Kathleen Lupole) #5

I am retired and only wear a mask when in the public areas of my apartment building and then when going into a store or post office (only two places I go). I finally figured out it I put the mask on first then put my glasses on so the bottom of the frame sits on the top of the mask, my glasses don’t fog up. I tried the shaving cream tip (wash your glasses with it) and it did not work. The other thing I do is to keep my lips tightly sealed and don’t breathe out of my mouth with the mask on. I have read where you need to breathe through your nose most of the time. If I talk to someone with the mask on, my glasses will fog up. It works for me don’t know if it works for everyone.

(Eric - The patient needs to be patient!) #6

You can take a small piece of paper towel and put it on your nose and a inch or two to each site where the top of the mask fits. This keeps the fog breath down.

My oldest figured this out because she wears a mask all day except to eat.

(Keith C) #8

measurements are a good benchmark to start from. masks aren’t flawless, it’s a good tool that can be improved or adjusted to.

(ANNE ) #9

A N95 mask or a cloth mask is way easier than being ventilated…
As a retired RN, who has worked on adult ICU, multi organ failure and weeks of ventilation are gruelling cruel to the human body.
Wear a mask,
it isn’t that hard to do for your fellow human beings.
Hypoxia from Covid is a real thing,
Hypoxia from a dry face mask is not.

(KCKO, KCFO) #10

This is why I love these forums. Thanks for posting.

(Ian) #11

Could someone explain the mechanism of hypoxia induced by wearing a mask?

Has anyone looked into the size of the oxygen molecule compared to the size of the pore spaces in masks, even hepa rated full face respirators with 100 % face seal.

The only realistic mechanism I can concive of is hysteria and hypochondria, resulting in shallow or psychologically impaired breathing.

(Barb Vonarx) #12

Ok how do you think nurses and doctors wear fit tested N-95 for a 12 hour + shift? As a nurse for 44 years I have spent countless hours in more PPE than you can imagine including a lead apron during trauma activations. People are silly and this type of social media panic is counterproductive to stopping more death. After watching people on ventilators die from hypoxia I sure hope everyone respects humanity enough to wear one

(Ethan) #13

Probably doesn’t exist—at least not on a large scale. A person is told to do something and gets defensive about it. The defensive reaction makes the person invent hints to make them unique and exempt from the authority’s action.

(KCKO, KCFO) #14

Welcome to the forums Barb. I agree with you 100%. If anyone thinks wearing a mask is uncomforable, they can try being on a ventilator sometime to learn the truth.

And if they think it takes away their liberty, they are just plain stupid and uncaring about others and themselves.

(Ron) #15



The mask IS uncomfortable (my mask, for me), nothing changes this. I wear my mask many minutes per months and it is damn uncomfortable when it lasts longer. But I wear them when shopping and I even cover my nose unlike half the people I see in hypermarkets.
I know, feel and experience it’s uncomfortable. I deal with it and I feel very good about myself. But I can’t ignore the feeling.

Of course, there are different masks, different people and I managed to wear the same mask without problems (still uncomfortable but nothing I can’t ignore for 2 minutes. hypermarkets are tough as I am in for long) while sometimes my glassed got fogged or I felt I can’t breathing properly.

In this country, mask is mandatory since months, I don’t know when it will change but people already started to stop… I get it, it’s summer, masks are damn uncomfortable and we have barely any cases. It’s not black and white. Lots of (tiny, at least if someone is healthy. I wonder about people with breathing problems to begin with) sacrifice for almost nothing? It sounds bad for many people.

I keep wearing mask, I don’t do it every week, I will survive it just fine.
My SO stopped wearing his mask all day, he did it for weeks. He isn’t even particularly close to people at his workplace and the change of meeting an infected person is extremely tiny. Covid is one of the tiniest danger for our health at the moment. Of course, we should be careful but we need to be reasonable. The attitude should be different in different places and times.
Like I totally kiss my elder relatives now. We can’t suspend proper life forever anyway but fortunately, chances for Covid is extremely low here and now. It matters a lot.

(Will knit for bacon. ) #17


Whats stupid is making assumptions about what people care about based on wearing a mask that’s not sealed and not protecting anybody from anything.

(Ron) #19

Whats stupid (and selfish) is ignoring evidence that masks help reduce time and distance that spores are airborne and assuming they don’t help to protect the spread of Covid-19.


The masks that almost everybody is wearing aren’t capable of pathogen filtration, that’s fact. If when you hear a cough or sneeze you literally run away, fine. They’ll buy you about 10-15 seconds before the cloud blows out the sides of the mask and travels that 6 feet you’re standing away. But unless you literally do exactly that, you’re kidding yourself.

(Ron) #21

I am a certified mold and and mildew restoration technician and have been trained in PPE applications and what they do. I also know that the cloth masks are not going to completely prevent airborne contamination but will help in reducing the radius that contamination could disperse to. It will also restrict larger liquid particles from escaping.
Fact is, aside from a little inconvenience it cost nothing to comply and could potentially stop from infecting someone else. To not do so is just selfish, inconsiderate, and disrespectful. Spin it how you want to but ignoring to potentially help humanity is selfish.
If I were to meet you face to face I would wear a mask not for myself but because there might be a .00001% chance that it might stop you from getting infected.
With that said, I won’t be coming to meet you anytime soon as it is clear our morality wouldn’t get along.