Generally, if we look hard enough, we can find a little bit of truth in everything. There are so many controversies going on right now, and my purpose here is not to add to the mix. But I also can’t stay silent on this one minor detail and that has to do with the harm our children are facing by being forced to wear masks not only while exercising but also outside at recess.
I don’t care to deal with the controversies around COVID-19. I don’t care to talk about the test cycles and rate of false positives or talk about vaccines. I don’t want to review the total death rates in North America, but maybe you should. And as much as I don’t want to discuss mask-wearing, there is one factor that must be discussed which is, children, being forced to wear masks while outdoors. I just recently found out that our province has made it mandatory for the kids to wear masks while outdoors at recess.
Now you may think I am just another person frustrated with the system, but hear me out for just a minute, please. I completed a Master’s Degree and studied the health benefits of nature and the outdoors. I worked for over two decades in government, managing parks, and also managed a small business where I promoted health and fitness in the outdoors. It has been my life interest and a major focus of study with regards to the health benefits of being outdoors and the positive effect that fresh air has on both our physical and mental state. So, all that I ask is that you give my perspective some serious thought and decide for yourself.
I have worked with runners who improved their ease and distance by improving their breathing and running outdoors. I have helped those with lung disease and asthma, improve their fitness because of the concentrated oxygen experienced while working out in fresh air. I have seen others minimize their Seasonal Affective Disorder by doing so in the winter. Everyone has felt the clarity of mind while being outdoors. It can make us feel better physically, it can strengthen our focus, and often decrease our anxiety. The positives recognized are in large part is due to the benefit of pure, concentrated oxygen that is received in a few minutes outdoors.
Fresh air also promotes the creation of white blood cells. Every time you inhale, your lungs fill with oxygen that thereafter gets transported in your blood, through organs and systems such as the lymphatic system, kidneys, heart, and colon. It not only can detoxify our body, even more important, that concentrated oxygen flowing through our bodies can fight infection within us.
My best example is one I experienced personally while dealing with a chronic illness that impacted the body’s oxygen saturation level. One of the rehabilitation modalities was Oxygen-Induced Exercise, which included 15-30 seconds of exercise followed by induced oxygen, monitored by an oxygen saturation meter. The effort is to recover or stabilize the oxygen saturation by increasing the oxygen inhalation from the machine. This was difficult to replicate at home until it was done outside. I was always able to stabilize oxygen saturation so that it did not drop so low requiring mechanical recovery. It was a real-world example of how fresh air increases our oxygen saturation just by being in it.
Julia L. Marcus, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at Harvard Medical Schools stated “I think going outside is important for health. We know that being outdoors is a lower risk for coronavirus transmission than being indoors. And since, aerosols (the airborne, droplet form of transmissions) are of great concern with the virus it was good to see that an aerosol scientist at Virginia Tech, Linsey Marr was recorded as saying “I think outdoors is so much better than indoors in almost all cases.”
In a study of 25,000 authors Mike Weed, a professor, and researcher at Canterbury Christ Church University told AFP "There were virtually no cases that we could identify that took place in sort of everyday life outdoors," and a group of scientists and engineers, including professors from American, British and German universities indicated that "outdoors is far safer than indoors, for the same activity and distance."
At Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, scientists have been studying indoor air quality in schools for decades. Using surveys that ask students if they have any respiratory symptoms and correlating the responses with how much fresh air classrooms get, they’ve found that, after controlling for factors like socioeconomic status, more fresh air is linked to fewer symptoms, says Rengie Chan, a research scientist at LBL.
Several studies are showing that the transmission of a respiratory infection such as SARS-CoV-2 is an indoor phenomenon. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air is two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. In general, the greater the number of people in an indoor environment, the greater the need for ventilation with outdoor air. But what’s happening is that after being in less ventilated higher-risk indoor areas, children are not able to realize the full benefits of the outdoor air because it's inhaled through a restrictive potentially contaminated mask
One of the strongest proponents of ventilation was Florence Nightingale, who trained nurses during the Crimean War. Increasing the flow of air reduced the spread of disease among soldiers, she found. “Keep the air he breathes as pure as the external air,” she famously wrote. Medical professionals of the time noted that sunshine and fresh air seemed to have salutary effects.
Other research found that students in better-ventilated spaces had better scores. “There’s pretty strong evidence that improved ventilation will get you improved student performance,” Chan says.The ability to better dissipate carbon dioxide by opening windows and doors was confirmed in a study explained in the same article when they placed dry ice, which produces carbon dioxide, in classrooms to mimic a room full of people. With a cheap carbon dioxide sensor, they could see how quickly the CO2dissipated.
Every time we exhale we eliminate part of the body’s waste in the form of carbon dioxide. By breathing deeply we take in more oxygen that cleanses the body, and by exhaling deeply we eliminate more waste both actions have an overall detox effect on the body. It's not just about the recycling of carbon dioxide inside a building or a mask, it’s also about mold, bacteria, and toxins that can contribute to deteriorating the quality of air inside a school or home. We feel the difference when we open a window or step outside, we can feel the difference in fresh air very easily and we feel the difference it makes in our body.
All of this to say, this is how our body rids itself of toxic substances but also how it fights off ailments, that could wear the immune system down and make them more susceptible to viruses. That is what each human is trying to do with every breath.
We can’t be sure at any given moment what a child’s body is fighting or trying to expel but consider this: Those few moments that a child is outside for recess are the perfect opportunity for the child to not only expel any contaminant it may be fighting and give its body a break. But even more importantly it is the best opportunity they have to infuse themselves with as pure oxygen as they can access daily. Is concentrated oxygen not one of the key tools we use in medicine to help a person fight illness and survive? Can we at least agree that here in the winter a child's time outdoors may be more limited so these rare opportunities are important to their ability to thrive? Can we consider that the time in a mask indoors could easily be rectified by getting some good, clear breaths of concentrated oxygen for a few minutes a day? Can we consider there may be some real value to that for the children, to help their physical health but even more important their mental health, while also improving anxiety, focus, clarity, sense of calm and ease, cause that’s what good oxygen can do?
Fresh air has so many health-fighting properties that there is just not enough time to list them all here. Some of the key properties that are vital to the health and success of our children are: -Increased energy
-Freeing the lungs of toxins (a very vulnerable organ during covid)
-Enhanced digestion which is also known to impact our immunity
-Improved circulation to help deal with blood pressure and heart rate (all important factors during challenging times)
- General stress and anxiety will benefit from improved breathing and oxygen concentration.
What I think we are not considering for our children is during the winter months, time is limited during the day for them to be out realizing these benefits. It's dark when they wake up to get ready for school and it is dark shortly after they get home. Without even considering the temperature and weather conditions as factors, we should at least be able to agree that time is limited for them to be outside other than during school hours, just because of minimized daylight alone. Their time out at recess is their only consistent opportunity to get fresh air, benefit from the health of concentrated oxygen, and recover from the challenges of new rules and new times. Yet, we have eliminated that one chance of good health for these children. We have blocked it completely from their access.
We should at least be able to agree that the negative ions found in the fresh air are known to improve one’s health. This seems to be a concept that is easily studied and accepted. But we also need to consider that it is difficult for those in colder climates to absorb these ions. We are bundled up in clothing from head to toe, so our faces, specifically our nose and mouth are our best way to inhale the benefits of the fresh air. It is our only way some days. So, let’s consider how are our children getting this benefit if these sources are blocked?
Studies in recent decades have demonstrated that terpenes (think of them as essential oils) exert immune-boosting benefits as well as, anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting various proinflammatory, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, skin inflammation as well as neural health. But as with all fresh air benefits they are best inhaled or absorbed, but how?
The opportunity to access all the health benefits of the fresh air in a very low-risk environment is not only lost by wearing a mask outdoors but also lost, is any chance to reverse the risk of infection while contracted inside. At the very least we need for children to get their oxygen to carbon dioxide ratio re-balanced from the amount of time they have worn the mask elsewhere. We want to eliminate the effects of too much CO2 exposure through mask-wearing If you don’t believe me consider this Germany-wide mask-wearing study that showed out of 25, 930 children, 68% reported irritability, headache, difficulty concentrating, less happiness, malaise, impaired learning, fatigue in children. This can all be attributed to low concentrations of oxygen or high CO2 but also, ironically, these symptoms are similar to or worse than contracting COVID for these youth
I understand the risk of spreading the illness between children is the key fear, while children are playing in close contact. But there are a few things that need to be considered along with this fear. The one that we have already covered extensively is the drastic decrease in risk by being outside vs. inside. But also studies show the virus dies quickly outside especially under sunlight, as one condition. Let’s also factor in the World Health Organization’s claims that it is prolonged exposure in stationary situations that increase the risk of contraction. That is the amazing thing about ventilation and the outdoors, it makes stationary impossible. The aerosols emitted never stay stagnant, the circulating air that exists even with little wind, keeps the aerosols moving so for that reason alone two people standing still, technically are not at risk because prolonged exposure is impossible, the air is always moving, at least a little bit. That key risk factor doesn’t exist for children outside to the same level even if they happen to get too close for a second.
We need oxygen to survive, we can all agree on that. We need good oxygen to thrive. And this time of year, during these more challenging times I am asking the question - are we sure we are giving our children what they need? I should mention here, I have no school-aged children. I am not trying to be controversial, I am just asking health professionals to reconsider this guideline with more consideration. I asked a few children if they are finding anything different about being in school this time and the most common answers were related to fatigue (including a normally very hyperactive child) and focussing issues (from academically accomplished students). Our children need fresh air to succeed. I hope the health implications of poor oxygen and lack of fresh air while at school all day, are being considered so that our children have the ability to succeed and not suffer. I hope we are not sacrificing our most basic need for survival and freedom; breathing fresh air and forsaking our children.