4:13 PM, Feb 27, 2020


Fact vs. Fiction: Mask myths for children in the classroom making the rounds

Posted at 8:51 PM, Aug 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-25 20:51:12-04

(WSYM) — Many Michigan counties are requiring face coverings in the classrooms. Once again, mask myths are making the rounds and causing concern among parents.

Masking is dangerous?

I have children and if I thought for one second that masking was dangerous, I would not have my own kids wear them. I understand false myths can be convincing. I've personally been asked by patients if face masks can cause carbon dioxide poisoning and I'll tell you what I tell them, it's not true. Why? First of all, face masks do not trap carbon dioxide – that’s the air that we breathe out. Because carbon dioxide molecules are super tiny. They escape easily through your mask because they're so small that they simply cannot be trapped by cloth material or disposable masks. So parents, please don’t worry that your child’s mask is going to make them tired, or affect their ability to focus or learn while at school.

Next myth: There is no clear scientific evidence that masks mitigate the risks for the wearer or those coming into contact with the wearer

Again, this is not true. There are plenty of studies that show masks can make a big difference. Just recently a study in North Carolina found that 40 to 70% of cases could be prevented by wearing face masks. And we’ve also seen counties that require masks have much lower rates of illness. As I’ve said many many times before, my mask protects you and your mask protects me. Now, not all masks are equal. There are several types of masks and studies have shown some protect better than others. The most common one that works well for kids is a cloth mask that has multiple layers. It should fit snugly, and cover the nose and mouth. They're not only great at trapping respiratory droplets when a person speaks, sneezes, or coughs...but they also protect the person from inhaling these droplets as well.

Next myth: Packages of masks can carry a warning that says the product will not prevent the transmission of viruses. So the myth that’s circulating on social media is that there is no point in wearing a mask. What can you tell us about this?

It is true that some mask packaging spells out that warning. Here’s what’s going on. There isn’t a mask available that can guarantee it'll 100% filter out virus particles. Even the most effective mask, the N95 respirator, can filter out around 95% of tiny particles. Does this mean we just skip masks? No. Because as I just said earlier, studies show masks work. And that’s why both the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend face masks for children over the age of two. So parents please do not fear face masks. But be sure your child is wearing a high-quality mask the right way and it'll go a long way in protecting them and everyone around them.

Partha Nandi, MD FACP