A study cited by COVID-19 truthers claiming that masks are harmful to humans' health is reportedly about to get retracted.
According to Retraction Watch, a study written by physiologist Baruch Vainshelboim that claimed wearing masks led to adverse health outcomes is being retracted by Elsevier, which published it last year.
The study made a series of sweeping claims about the negative effects of wearing masks, including "hypoxia, hypercapnia, shortness of breath, increased acidity and toxicity, activation of fear and stress response, rise in stress hormones, immunosuppression, fatigue, headaches, decline in cognitive performance, predisposition for viral and infectious illnesses, chronic stress, anxiety and depression."
The study has been cited by right-wing publications such as Gateway Pundit as proof that masks are dangerous, even though scientists have widely debunked it for making several false claims.
J. Alex Huffman, an aerosol scientist at the University of Denver, told FactCheck.org that Vainshelboim's paper made fundamental errors in describing the ways that viruses spread through the air.
"Viruses don't come out of your mouth as naked viruses," he explained to the website. "They come out in liquid drops that are full of mostly water but also some proteins and salts."
Additionally, as Snopes notes, the study was not peer reviewed before publication, as Elsevier's Medical Hypotheses journal specializes in publishing "radical, speculative and non-mainstream scientific ideas" so long as "they are coherently expressed."
But despite its willingness to publish outside-the-box ideas without traditional peer review, it seems that the anti-mask study was nonetheless a bridge too far for the publication.