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Healthy Breathing 101: Debunking the Myth of Mask Poisoning as a result of Carbon Toxicity

Healthy Breathing

Healthy Breathing 101: Debunking the Myth of Mask Poisoning as a result of Carbon Toxicity

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By Bidisha Mahapatra


Table of Contents


1.1. Introduction: The Breath of Life

1.2. Healthy Breathing and Pranayama

  • Perks of Healthy Breathing
  • Why is slow breathing essential?
  • Abdominal Breathing and the Relaxation Response:
  • The Health Benefits of Pranayama: What is Pranayama?


1.3. Pollution in Indian Cities : Need for a Protective Mask

  • The Worsening Condition of City Air
  • Why a good mask is essential for healthy breathing?


1.3. Types of Carbon Emissions and Carbon Poisoning

  • Is Carbon Dangerous for the Lungs?
  • Carbon dioxide and its effects
  • Is the carbon dioxide that we breathe out different?


1.3. Debunking the myth of Masks and Carbon Toxicity

  • What is the rumour all about?
  • What is Hypercapnia?
  • Debunking the Myth of Mask Poisoning:
  • Are Face Masks Safe?


1.4. The Most Secure Anti Pollution Mask: AIRE

1.5. Conclusion

1.6. References



Healthy Breathing

The Breath of Life

The act of taking in fresh and healthy air into the lungs essential to leading a good life and is called the ‘Breath of Life’ for a good reason. One of the most basic functions of the human body is breathing. It not only fuels the human machinery with oxygen but also clears a foggy stressed out mind and helps strengthen the body muscles.


From cognition to muscular function, effective breathing provides one with a greater sense of mental clarity, aiding better sleep, effective digestion and the improvement of the body’s natural in-built immune response. The act of breathing is key to a smooth and functional life.


Healthy Breathing and Pranayama:


Perks of Healthy Breathing:

There are many benefits of healthy breathing. The proper balance of inhaling and exhaling provides an optimal level of CO2 in the blood. Slow and steady breathing releases oxygen to body tissues for gas exchange. It also promotes the release of nitric oxide (NO) to blood vessels for vasodilation and glucose release for energy.


Why is slow breathing essential?

Why is slow breathing essential?

Breathing more slowly, gently and deeply helps one to become calm and relax. It also reduces tension and anxiety thereby significantly improving concentration and memory. People who are accustomed to fast lifestyles in polluted cities often has the tendency to breathe very quickly taking quick gulps of the air. This contributes to anxiety, muscular tension, panic attacks, headaches, and fatigue.


Abdominal Breathing and the Relaxation Response:

When practicing slow, deep breathing, diaphragmatic, or, abdominal breathing is one of the easiest ways to produce a relaxation response from the body. Many people who practice yoga, especially those who focus on the practice of  Pranayama, or breath control, have been shown to have immense control over their sympathetic nervous system. It is the part of the body that controls breathing, heart rate and blood pressure.


What is Pranayama?

Pranayama is the age-old ancient Indian practice of breath regulation. It’s a central component of regime off yoga and is a key exercise for physical and mental wellness. In Sanskrit, “prana” means life energy and “yama” means control.


The practice of pranayama involves breathing exercises and patterns where one must inhale, exhale, and hold the breath in a specific sequence. According the ancient spiritual practice, one must control the timing, duration and frequency of every breath.


The goal of pranayama is to connect your body and mind. It also supplies the body with oxygen while removing toxins. It also embodies within itself healing physiological benefits.


Pranayama involves different breathing techniques like:

  • alternate nostril breathing (nadishodhana),
  • victorious breath (ujjayi)
  • female honeybee humming breath (bhramari).


What is Pranayama?

The Health Benefits of Pranayama:

The health benefits of Pranayama are multi fold. At a spiritual transcendental level, it enhances the quantity and quality of life force and clears blocked energy channels. It harmonises the body, mind and spirit. Physical effects include an instant boost to the immune system, rejuvenating the body and mind and slowing down the ageing process.


Pollution in Indian Cities : Need for a Protective Mask


The Worsening Condition of City Air:

While practicing slow deep breathing is a great way to live healthy it doesn’t go a long way in protecting individuals from the everyday air pollution that they are exposed to especially in a country like India.

India is on one of the most polluted countries in the world. Research has shown that exposure to air pollution, be it brief or over the long term, can have negative impacts on the lungs and hearts, and potentially the brain as well. It is estimated that outdoor air pollution causes 3 million excess deaths worldwide each year.

The Worsening Condition of City Air

Why a good mask is essential for healthy breathing?

In order to protect residents from the worsening condition of city air, a number of cities across the globe have introduced policies aimed at reducing urban air pollution, including congestion charging in London, bike sharing in Paris, and an “environmental police force” in Beijing.


However, because time is required to implement policies intended to improve air quality and for them to actually have an effect.  Therefore a growing number of pedestrians bicyclists and city dwellers  are choosing to wear high protection air pollution masks or filter based facial mask to reduce the risks of toxic air.


Options range from simple paper dust masks to those that supply clean air and prevent exposure to even the worst air pollution, like that found in dangerous work settings.


Types of Carbon Emissions and Carbon Poisoning:

Is Carbon Dangerous for the Lungs?

Carbon when combined with oxygen can be potentially polluting and harmful for the lungs. There are two primary types of carbon compounds with oxygen that we are frequently exposed to in daily living. These are carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.

Industries polluting the aire

Carbon dioxide and its effects:

Carbon dioxide is the result of complete combustion. Complete combustion is a chemical reaction in which a hydrocarbon reacts with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and water. The combustion when you watch a candle burn includes the candle wax which is a hydrocarbon that reacts with oxygen in the air and the heat from the lit wick. The carbon dioxide that is released into the air is a colourless and odorless gas. It is a largely non-reactive gas, and once released, it quickly mixes with the atmosphere.


Is the carbon dioxide that we breathe out different?

Carbon dioxide is released from human beings through the natural process of exhaling and in small quantities by plants during the night. However air exhalation is not a pollutant because the amount of carbon dioxide released is very less. It is in-fact essential for the sustenance of a healthy ecosystem.


Carbon dioxide is also produced through industrial processes and vehicular transmissions. Industrial plants that produce hydrogen or ammonia from natural gas, coal, or large-volume fermentation operations are some of the largest commercial producers of carbon dioxide. The excessive CO2 released from cars and industries cause air pollution and contribute inevitably to the erosion of the ozone layer as a green house gas.

Is the carbon dioxide that we breathe out different?

Debunking the myth of Masks and Carbon Toxicity:

What is the rumor all about?

A viral image titled: “Masks and Carbon Dioxide Toxicity,” appeared on multiple social media platforms stating that masks could trap exhaled carbon dioxide causing us to breathe it back in. It claims this process could lead to CO2 intoxication or poisoning which, in turn, can cause breathing problems, muscle twitches and long term loss of judgement.

The posts also alert people to something called hypercapnia -which is a condition where there is too much carbon dioxide in the blood.

Headache while wearing a mask

What is Hypercapnia?

Hypercapnia is a condition arising from too much carbon dioxide in the blood. Mild symptoms include dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, headache, shortness of breath and disorientation. Severe symptoms include seizures, muscle twitching, loss of consciousness and coma. There are preexisting health conditions that may cause hypercapnia.

Some of these include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and sleep apnea.



Debunking the Myth of Mask Poisoning:

There is no truth to the rumour that wearing a mask reduces the oxygen level or that it leads to carbon dioxide poisoning. Whether it is a N-95 mask or a normal cotton mask, one need not worry about their safety. As far as the exchange of respiratory gases are concerned, carbon dioxide molecules can freely diffuse through the mask while breathing.


“Carbon poisoning through face masks simply won’t happen unless there is an air-tight fit and you rebreathe your air,” says Prof Neal.


Are Face Masks Safe?

Carbon dioxide molecules are tiny – far smaller than droplets containing toxic virus or other particulate matter which anti-pollution masks are designed to stop. And therefore, the carbon we exhale won’t be trapped by a breathable material, particularly during relatively short periods like a bus journey.


When we breathe out, the carbon dioxide goes through and round the type of masks that are most commonly worn including the ones with N95 and N99 filters. It is unlikely to build up to the extent that it causes health issues. Surgeons regularly wear much heavier-duty face coverings all day without coming to harm.

Are Face Masks Safe?

The Most Secure Anti Pollution Mask : AIRE

An esteemed unit in Auroville called AIRE, have been producing reusable air-filter masks including both the N95 and N99 type with 6 and 8 filtering layers respectively. AIRE masks are unique as they concentrate on producing quality products that protect our lungs from air pollutants, bacteria and common viruses.

The mask comes with the traditional adjustable hoop as well as a scarf face mask variant that makes it perfect for combating air pollution in the city while venturing outside or during workout.

The mask is washable making it the most hygienic face mask that doesn’t expose you to the threat of carbon pollutant exposure. Human beings exhale the flora living inside our mouth and throat and it comes out in the form of aerosol and saliva. A truly flexible mask like AIRE with durable inner fabric allows us to wash the mask if the exhalation eventually creates a bad smell or uncomfortable sensation.



AIRE mask is the most effective anti-pollution mask for healthy breathing . With an advanced respiratory device which acts as a barrier against chemical and biological impurities, toxins and pollutants. The organisation have pioneered research to bring about a healthy lifestyle change in countries like India where pollution is a primarily threat. It is the ideal mask for daily use in hot areas, cities and outdoor activities, especially in the current context of the pandemic. The masks have been tested and authorized by the Indian National Laboratory of Ministry of Labor as one of the most effective anti-pollution preventive in India.





Importance of Breathing:


Importance of Proper Breathing for Overall health:


7 Science-Backed Benefits of Pranayama:


10 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Pranayama (Yoga Breathing):


Tests prove masks don’t cause oxygen deficiency & CO2 intoxication:


Follow your breath and fly high:


Partly false claim: Continually wearing a mask causes hypercapnia:


Coronavirus: ‘Deadly masks’ claims debunked:


Coronavirus pandemic: Does wearing a face mask cause carbon dioxide poisoning?


Mask myths: No, carbon dioxide won’t make you sick:


Carbon Monoxide vs Carbon Dioxide: Lets Compare


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