Do Face Masks Decrease Your Oxygen Levels and Create Brain Damage?

by | Nov 13, 2020 | cloth face masks

There’s no denying that certain types of masks are hard to breathe through.

The feeling of suffocation is enough to make any normal person panic, forcing them to take smaller breaths more rapidly, thus making breathing even more difficult.

This brings about one very important question: 

Do masks decrease oxygen and cause brain damage?

Let’s do some fact-checking.

Always fact-check your sources

The original idea that masks decrease oxygen levels came from neurologist Margareta Griesz-Brisson. Her viral video, which has since been removed from YouTube due its violation of their terms of service, claimed that:

“The rebreathing of our exhaled air will without a doubt create oxygen deficiency and a flooding of carbon dioxide. We know that the human brain is very sensitive to oxygen deprivation. There are nerve cells, for example, in the hippocampus, that can’t be longer than three minutes without oxygen — they cannot survive.”

This video was then transcribed into a Facebook post by a user that declined to answer whether or not she fact-checked its information.

Because Margareta is a neurologist, people jumped on the opportunity to believe her word as the truth; however, evidence does not support her claim.

The truth

Medical experts have proven in several studies that masks will not drop your oxygen to dangerous, brain-damaging levels, nor will they cause a flooding of carbon dioxide. If this were the case, surgeons would not be able to operate for 12+ hours straight without collapsing in the operating room. 

You can easily confirm this for yourself at home if you own a pulse oximeter. Simply slide it on your finger, slap on your mask, and it will monitor the level of oxygen in your blood. This number should stay between 95 and 100 (a healthy level) unless you have sleep apnea, COVID-19, or chronic lung disease.

In a recent USA Today story, Linsey Marr, Virginia Tech professor of civil and environmental engineering (and airborne disease transmission expert) confirms that:

“While masks can block particles like respiratory droplets and aerosols that might contain coronavirus, they do not block gases like oxygen and carbon dioxide.”

Pulmonologist Jonathan Parsons at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center adds on to that, stating:

“Fortunately, the flurry of complaints has also given rise to a number of highly effective demonstrations in which medical professionals display their excellent oxygen levels while trying on different masks – and sometimes multiple masks at once.”

This YouTube video, posted by The University of California-San Diego Health office, demonstrates that even wearing seven masks at once is safe enough to keep your oxygen levels within a healthy range. 

Their experiment also took a look at CO2 levels in the body of another demonstrator, who also wore up to seven masks at once for test purposes. The results of this study showed that, even with seven masks on, CO2 within the body remains at a healthy level.

These studies have concluded that not wearing a mask actually puts you at a greater risk of low oxygen and brain damage (from contracting COVID-19) than wearing one does. That being said, you should continue wearing a mask to protect yourself before you really start to suffer. 


Make sure your students, staff, or customers are protected by providing them with cloth face masks. 

At Quality Face Wear, we’re doing our part to help keep the curve flattened so you don’t have to shut down again. Our masks are both protective and breathable, and are being trusted in offices, schools, and businesses nationwide.

Our masks can be delivered in as little as 2 – 3 weeks for blanks or 3 – 4 weeks for logo imprints (with free shipping), compared to the months-long shipping time of our competitors.

Contact Quality Face Wear today to request a quote! We look forward to helping you and your employees/students stay safe during this pandemic.