Will wearing a mask at a hot theme park lower your blood oxygen level?

by Tharin White

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen claims of the dangers of wearing masks and the dangers of not wearing masks. One of the main claims against face coverings, other than discomfort, is the lack of oxygen guests may receive while being at a theme park all day. I took a pulse oximeter to the Universal Orlando Resort to see true results of what our blood oxygen saturation percentage was throughout the day.

With Florida reaching nearly 9,000 cases of COVID-19 in a day, many counties have mandates that the public must wear masks in public except when eating or drinking. Even though this is now the case in Orange County, most theme parks around the world are already making masks mandatory, including Universal, Disney and SeaWorld.

We recently wore a mask all day in the heat at Universal Orlando to see how uncomfortable it would be, and determined it’s not ideal, but doable with some of our tips. Since we know it’s doable, we also wanted to make sure wearing face coverings in the heat is also safe.

We started our testing at home. This was taken after five minutes of sitting in an air-conditioned home with a house temperature of 71º Fahrenheit. I was not wearing a mask. For our pulse oximeter, the blood oxygen saturation is at the top, with the pulse recorded at the bottom. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Normal pulse oximeter readings usually range from 95 to 100 percent. Values under 90 percent are considered low.”

I then went on a 25-minute speed-walk outdoors with no mask. The temperature was 95º Fahrenheit with intermittent clouds most of the day. I had a two percent drop in blood oxygen levels.

As soon as we parked at the Universal Orlando Resort, I took another reading. It was my highest blood oxygen reading yet, with one percent higher than resting at home in the air conditioning. We then put on our masks and headed to the theme parks.

During our day we tested the three most commonly seen masks in theme parks. Many parks sell the common over-the-ear looped mask seen on the left. Disposable filtered masks, center, are the most used and can be easily purchased in bulk. Many others also use the neck gaiter style seen on the right.

With the disposable filtered masks being the most used, and most recommended for filtration, we used it for most of the testing.

We wanted to get a true experience without taking the mask off for two hours. We rode Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure when it was our time for the virtual queue. The virtual queue has done an exceedingly good job at keeping crowds down in a line that usually is packed.

During our two-hour test, we made sure to be primarily outside in the Florida heat. We also walked past the rumored Velocicoaster construction and did an entire loop around Universal’s Islands of Adventure park.

I had now worn the disposable filtered mask for two hours without removing it. During that time, I did not lower the mask under my nose or take it off briefly for a sip of water or snack. My blood oxygen saturation was 95, one percent lower than my initial exam. But, it was actually one percent higher than when I speed-walked at home without a mask.

But, we wanted to be sure that a thrill attraction, like a roller coaster, would not cause vastly different results. I did tests after numerous thrill attractions and received the same results again and again. These two images were taken at the exit of Dr. Doom’s FearFall and The Incredible Hulk Coaster. My blood oxygen saturation level stayed at 94 and 95 percent consistently between each attraction.

So, what are dangerous blood oxygen saturation levels? Why is it important to note our percentages while wearing a mask in the parks?

“Hypoxemia is a below-normal level of oxygen in your blood, specifically in the arteries. Hypoxemia is a sign of a problem related to breathing or circulation, and may result in various symptoms, such as shortness of breath,” states the Mayo Clinic. Remember, normal readings range from 95 to 100 percent. Only values under 90 percent are considered low.

The Lung Institute states that, “Oxygen saturation refers to the amount of oxygen that’s in your bloodstream. The body requires a specific amount of oxygen in your blood to function properly. The normal range of oxygen saturation for adults is 94 to 99 percent. Anyone with an oxygen saturation level below 90 percent will likely require supplemental oxygen, which is prescribed by your primary care doctor or pulmonologist.”

I prefer the neck gaiter style, and feel it is easiest to wear comfortably for long periods. My friend, pictured above, prefers the over-ear looped masks.

The disposable filtered masks are the thickest and most filtered options. They, therefore, should give the user the least amount of oxygen. Even during tests after thrill rides or long walks in the park, our blood oxygen saturation never dropped below 94 while using any of the three masks.

Our friend and theme park vlogger Tim Tracker also did a blood oxygen test. He did numerous tests while walking around Disney property. And, he received generally the same results that we did.

Does Wearing A Face Mask Affect Your Blood Oxygen Level? | A Theme Park Experiment & Disney Update!

These were our results, but we certainly are not claiming to be doctors who specialize in this area. We have visited the parks on numerous occasions with no fear of passing out or going ill from lack of oxygen. But, it is always best to consult your own physician. Each person has their own comfort levels. In the current situation, extreme caution and care are needed in public areas.

If you feel you can’t wear a face mask because of a disability, but still want to visit Universal Orlando, they are now allowing those guests to wear a face shield instead of a mask with permission.

Does this article change your mind about masks? Is there a mask you prefer to wear for extended periods? What mask do you feel most comfortable and safe in? Let us know in the comments below.


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Kristi June 26, 2020 - 7:24 pm

That is reassuring but it doesn’t address the health implications of the bacteria caught in the mask you keep breathing in. I would want to change to a fresh mask frequently. And seems the older you get, the less well you tolerate heat. I don’t think I could tolerate the discomfort all day in a park. I see masks as having both pros and cons. Think I will just wait until Covid passes.

GrowUpPeople June 27, 2020 - 6:46 am

Lol. People seriously need to get off the internet and do something constructive. Spreading these stupid rumors. Grow up. If you don’t want to wear a mask stay home! Problem solved.

Carolyn July 2, 2020 - 5:26 am

You realize this is America right? We have rights and freedoms that people have fought for and here you are willing to throw away all we stand for by telling people to stay home in this free country. Both of my grandfathers fought for America so people like you could have the freedoms we have today. Be careful what you allow yourself to believe. You may think it’s a good idea today but one day someone may think it’s ok to take this freedom away from you too and I want you to think back to when you wrote this comment and how you thought these ignorant words solved the problem.

Dan July 4, 2020 - 4:05 pm

If you are scared of the virus, have health issues, or test positive, stay home! Forcing healthy people to wear masks is fascist and if it slows the spread, it will cause a delay in herd immunity, which is the only thing that can beat the SAR-CoV-2 virus. There isn’t going to be a vaccine any time soon. The best thing for our country is to expose all healthy people to the virus as soon as possible, to build herd immunity. Since corona virus immunity is typically short-lived, slowing the spread will allow previously infected people to become infected again. That’s science, not politics.

Rich Perhai July 6, 2020 - 8:51 pm

Well, a few things … 1) Sure, you’re young and healthy so you figure good to go – except while you were there you contracted the virus… which you now spread to your I’m-healthy-too friend, who in turns goes shopping and spreads it… and eventually it spreads to someone who isn’t healthy and dies. 2) Her immunity is a dream – it will take 90% infection to accomplish (and scientists aren’t sure if that even provides long term immunity). We’re at less than 5% with 120,000+ deaths. – so your argument is bogus to begin with (we won’t even get into the idea that lowering the curve is a bad idea…) 3) As for freedom, you do not have the right to endanger people, which is why the government can legally make masks mandatory. As the old saying goes, your right to swing your fist ends at my nose.

Mick July 14, 2020 - 4:31 pm

Firstly your wrong on so many.levels the numbers of deaths are not true because firstly we have no definitive way to test for this so calld virus, secondly we have dealt with pathogens since forever, and they are not going away, we get ill, we recover. We shouldn’t live in a bubble or fear nothing has changed since last year and the year before the same pathogens existed. As for your right to endanger other people that bit of fascist “for the people” has been used through the ages to enforce and remove peoples fredoms! Well done for being a complete moron and backing the very people who are attempting to control you!

Kenneth Holmes July 14, 2020 - 3:03 pm

herd immunity is not working for covid though

Dan Hammack July 16, 2020 - 11:26 pm

How would we know? We’ve done everything possible to limit and slow the spread meaning that if herd immunity were to end the spread of this virus, we’re doing everything possible to delay that from happening. This may benefit us if a vaccine is found, otherwise it may just be dragging out and delaying the inevitable, and possibly losing just as many lives, but over a longer period of time.

Mick July 14, 2020 - 4:17 pm

Or you can just stay home if your fear for your life over a fake pandemic and virus! You need to stop believing everything your fed via the goverments and media. Wearing a mask is a health hazard simple as and should only be worn for limited times whe you have to such as doctors, dentists etc for hygiene (these are also in controlled environments and disposed of immediately. Or when working In dangerous environments, if prolonged use is needed additional breathers can be used all to maintain higher O2 rates to not only stop lower or Sat’s but also acidosis of the blood (in this case aerobic acidosis) due to higher levels of CO2. Also the build up of pathogens in the mask martial and the ideal incubation site wet warm and constant supply of moisture to allow growth then inhaling it back in. (Sound delitful) this entire pandemic is a scam fro. Top to bottom! There has been no extra deaths there are tens of thousands of deaths every day, alot from respiratory problems, now all being labeled as this imaginary covid19 all for control and fear. People gladly giving away their freedom all just incase. Ignorance is just running rampant at the moment with mob mentality to back up these goverments

UNIPASSHOLDER July 26, 2020 - 11:07 pm

Or if you are that paranoid maybe you are the one that needs to stay home. The recovery rate 99.98%. Most of us have already had this virus, including my family before the pandemic. Just donated our antibodies to help find a vaccine! My daughter has severe asthma and can’t wear a mask. Her oxygen drops to 84% and she goes right into an attack. So it’s easy for someone who has no knowledge of how masks don’t work anyway to make such an ignorant statement!

Frank June 27, 2020 - 11:10 pm

There isn’t any proof that a mask actually filters out covid so as far as I am concerned the media has most of the country brain washed into thinking that all is well with a mask on. The fact is it is all bull. As long as I am told I have to wear a mask I will stay home. When the parks realize they are losing a lot of guests things will change.

Rich Perhai July 6, 2020 - 8:52 pm

The mask isn’t to protect you. Its to protect you from others. Masks work if everyone wears them.

Mick July 14, 2020 - 4:18 pm

No they don’t work and that mentality of “its for the people” has been used by every fascist dictatorship going.

Andrew Jacobson July 27, 2020 - 12:49 pm

It has been proven by the CDC that face masks show no increase in protection from a meta-analysis done back in May of 2020. Here is the link: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/5/19-0994_article
Please read it carefully.

Under the heading “Face Masks” It states and I quote from the study:

“In our systematic review, we identified 10 RTC” (randomized control trials)”that reported estimates of the effectiveness of face masks in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza virus infections in the community from literature published during 1946-July 27, 2018. In pooled analysis, we found no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks.”

This begs the question: If face masks don’t work why are we being coerced into wearing ?

Lisa June 28, 2020 - 9:37 pm

Media is known as tell-a-lie. Wake up America your allowing the democrats make you believe this flu is so bad. There has been several covid viruses for many years like SARS. The truth is the democrats are doing this so they can turn America into socialism and all you sheeps that obey wearing a mask ia only helping the democrats out. CDC has changed their minds so many times about covid and masks. That kinda tells you they are making things up. I agree mask wearing is a recipe for bacterial respiratory infections duh. And yes your oxygen levels do decrease wearing a mask to 17% and OSHA says you have to aleast be at 19.5%. you cant use a pulse oximeter to measure these levels. Look up the you tube video for your facts. ( If you get a headache while wearing masks). STOP LETTING AMERICA TURN SOCIALISM ALL YOU IDIOTS (SHEEPS). i refuse to wear a mask and if all you believers have to wear a mask to be out then JUST STAY HOME.

Brian July 1, 2020 - 7:22 pm

Pulse ox is literally the medical standard for oxygen saturation in your blood. “Look up your facts on YouTube” get out of here.

Carolyn July 2, 2020 - 5:34 am

I get headaches and light headed when I wear a mask. I’ve seen people pass out from wearing them too. And then you see people jogging and driving with one on. This is crazy, people are too brainwashed to possess common sense. Listen to your bodies people! If you feel light headed, have headaches, gasping for air, ect.. take off that mask!

Rich Perhai July 6, 2020 - 8:54 pm

Ugh. Its so insane to hear these “its all a hoax” or stuff like that. Right, every country decided the trash their economy, bribe thousands of scientists, and fake hundreds of tests so the democrats can win an election?

Mick July 14, 2020 - 4:25 pm

No its all done for control. The exact same as the war on terror, to install fear. Religion doesn’t work as a control mechanism anymore due to the fact alot of countries being more atheist or non practicing and separation of church and state. This is not a hoax its a via for control. Short term loss (and not really loss is it the government’s money they are loosing and using, no its ours the tax payers) for long term gain, more tracking powers, more control more police powers, less freedom, and you only have to scare a sizable amount of people and mob rule does the rest… that and bombard people with a lot of misinformation (I’m an biochemist and I can’t belive the lies that the media are allowed to get away with or the BS on all these sites and you tube channels!) People just need to live their lives we will always come i to contact with pathogens, its part of life a d we can’t hide from them I would rather live my life than cower in my home and be told I can’t go here or there or do that especially based on lies!

Dan McGrath July 3, 2020 - 11:25 pm

Amazing it complete destroys a study conducted with surgeons that concluded the exact opposite, but hey you are looking to push a political agenda so screw what studies say


Mike Hawk July 7, 2020 - 4:16 pm

There is no definite proof in your study.

Amy July 4, 2020 - 2:50 pm

Regardless of your opinions or personal choices about masks, this was an interesting read. Their informal study produced concrete numbers. It’s just information, people. I, for one, am happy to have the freedom to read articles like this that help further my understanding. Information is just that. Nobody should feel threatened or angry, lol!

Stacey July 11, 2020 - 3:12 pm

I agree. It’s nice to see someone actually trying to gather some data. I know that’s very frowned upon lately. Even most of the CDC “studies” right now only rely on peoples’ recollection of events- where they were, when they started symptoms, with whom they came into contact, etc. It would be interesting to see a good test done for mask wearing in children. Their threshold for hypoxia is 94 instead of 90. I will tell you as a health care practitioner, if someone is sick with COVID next to you coughing in close proximity, we know that only a proper fitting N95 or KN95 will give you protection against the small size particle. Having people wear cloth masks doesn’t seem to make much sense, especially outdoors where physically distancing yourself from people should be possible. We know that transmission occurs from, on average, 15 minutes of close contact. So if you’re not in close contact with someone for 15 minutes, it really shouldn’t matter if you wear a mask from a transmission standpoint. The jury is still out on hypoxia though. It will be nice when we can get a true randomized study on this.

Rob July 7, 2020 - 11:39 pm

I visited an amusement park in PA this past Friday and temperatures got up to 95. I wore the mask okay for the first few hours while the temperatures were lower, but as it heated up, I found myself needing to lift it for some fresh air and started to feel lightheaded at times. By the last few hours of the day, I was uncovered more often than I was covered. I’m normally a stickler for the rules and I hated to do that, but I wasn’t about to let myself pass out and I also wasn’t about to waste the money that was spent on the tickets. Everyone kept their distance for the most part anyway, and I made sure to wear the mask in lines though.

Mike July 17, 2020 - 4:26 pm

That was a great experiment. Thanks for sharing. It would be interesting to see what the results would look like for older or less fit people. The 2-3% drop in O2 is small but will have an effect on your bodies metabolism. I enjoyed the article and simple experiment.
The questions about should we or should we not be required to use a mask are a different topic.

Jopitz July 22, 2020 - 9:01 am

N95 can only filter .3 microns as per 3M that distributes the mask. According to CDC the virus is .06 microns. That is 5 times smaller than the mask can actually filter. The information sent with the mask by the 3M company imply s that you can still get this virus and any bacterial pathogen that is smaller than .3 micros. Its a FILTER. It does not REPEL It does not KILL the virus. It COLLECTS the virus and people are constantly pulling the mask off or down to breath though the nose. The mask will eventually be the cause of many positive test. Of course, they will not tell you this for many years.


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