Do face masks make you retain carbon dioxide?

Do face masks impede your breathing or make you retain carbon dioxide (CO2)? Intensive Care Unit physician Greg Schmidt, MD, settles the argument for us in this Epi Explains video.


  1. Face masks do not decrease your oxygen intake
  2. They also do not make you retain more carbon dioxide than usual
  3. Oxygen and CO2 are very small, so they can easily pass through a face mask
  4. Droplets are much larger in comparison, and they cannot pass easily through a face mask
  5. Wearing face masks now helps us get back to normal sooner
Last reviewed: 
July 2020

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