Questions raised about the safety of full face snorkel masks after news hit the media regarding full face mask drowning in Hawaii. Since Easybreath type masks are extremely popular nowadays, authorities and also manufacturers started to investigate if using full face snorkel mask dangerous – we share the latest information now with you.
Table of Contents
- Why can be a full face snorkel mask dangerous?
- Full face snorkel mask manufacturer breathing test results
- When is a full face snorkel mask dangerous?
- What is our opinion?
- Most reliable full face snorkel masks
- Conclusion – Is full face snorkel mask dangerous or not?
Why can be a full face snorkel mask dangerous?
While breathing we produce carbon dioxide. While any activity, your body needs more oxygen and you breathe faster and shallower. If this happens in a closed space like with a full face mask on your head, you don’t exhale deeply enough to push the used air out of the snorkel mask/tube and start breathing in the bad air that contains more carbon dioxide.
If you breathe in used air full of CO2 leads to headache, dizziness, and unconsciousness. CO2 can build up in wrong-designed normal snorkel tubes too… This problem can occur not only with full face masks, having the wrong equipment can always lead to dangerous situations.
This sounds scary, but don’t start worrying. If your snorkel equipment is well-designed and tested, it is safe to use. Therefore we always recommend buying high-quality snorkel gear from well-known trusted brands.
Luckily also manufacturers of full-face snorkel masks have taken this into account and designed the masks accordingly: they are divided into a breathing and a looking part. The breathing part seals the mouth and nose off from the viewing part. On the top of this part, you find little valves that only let in fresh air, so if the design is correct and silicone seals perfectly, bad air that contains carbon dioxide is forced to flow out of the snorkel on the side channels of the mask.
In order to get perfect air circulation and no leakage, it is important to know how to choose the right full face snorkel mask size.
Full face snorkel mask manufacturer breathing test results
Since full face masks are relatively new on the snorkel gear market, little information available on them and it became an urgent matter to investigate if they are dangerous or safe to use. So far the 3 biggest manufacturers, Decathlon-Subea, HEAD/Mares and SEAC commented the full face snorkel mask dangerous question and made information public on standards and tests.
The inventor of full face masks, Decathlon provided us with information in e-mail, moreover their Subea safety statement is available on their website as well. HEAD/MARES joined Hawaii authorities and investigated various types of masks focusing on measurement of potential full face mask CO2 buildup. SEAC Italian dive gear manufacturer launched its new product line just a few months ago after carrying out various tests.
HEAD Sea Vu Dry official announcement
“While there are no specific standards for testing of full-face snorkel masks, HEAD referenced two European Union Norms, the EN250, and EN14143, standards widely used in the scuba diving industry and also adopted by US authorities such as NASA for the testing of full-face scuba diving masks. CO2 buildup measured on the HEAD full face mask is at around 50% of the maximum allowed limits set by EN250 at a breathing rate of 10 liters per minute (slow and calm breathing). Around 20% of the maximum limit when breathing at a rate of 62.5 liters per minute (e.g. breathing heavily with still deep breaths in a panic situation). In other words, the higher the stress level, the higher the breathing rate, and the better the mask performs.”
- innovative mask from leading manufacturer
- easy, natural breathing experience
- no-fog circulation system
- extra wide field of view
- available in different colors and 2 sizes
Subea Easybreath test results
Being Easybreath is one of the most popular products of Decathlon, the company examine the mask and regularly carries out independent tests too. Brief statement of Subea Easybreath tests and standards (summary of official publication from subea.com)
- Original Easybreath mask with patented design
- 180degree Panoramic Field of view
- Shatterproof lens
- Fresh airflow system with double air chamber
- Natural breathing through mouth/nose
- Easybreath snorkel mask belongs to PPE Personal Protective Equipment (like other diving products)
- Was designed with Sport Controle Medical Team who measured cardio-respiratory data (oxygen rate, CO2 intake, respiratory quotient) during exercise and found the mask safe while typical usage for snorkeling
- Corresponds to European Parliament NF EN 16805 mask standard and NF EN 1972 snorkel standard 2016/425 regulation
- It meets safety and quality standards according to the independent National Institute of Professional Diving France
- Tested by DAN Diver Alert Network Europe in normal and stress situation as well and confirmed that Easybreath is safe to use
- CO2 concentration recorded while using this full face mask is slightly above 2%. This does not exceed the max exposure limit 3% meaning there is no risk if used according to the instructions
- Moreover, and Decathlon monitors customers’ feedbacks and reviews continuously and will remove the mask from sale in case the rating would fall under 3/5
SEAC Unica testing methods
With its new full-face snorkeling mask selection, SEAC aims to provide the lowest efforts while breathing together with the expulsion of CO2 build-up. When designing its new snorkel mask line, the company’s main focus was to offer snorkelers effortless breathing like on land while keeping the CO2 level inside the mask well below the limits.
SEAC designers and engineers developed specific tests using Ansti machines to measure the performance while dynamic breathing, the level of CO2 in the inhaled air.
- Natural breathing with lowest efforts
- Separate air channels for inhalation and exhalation
- Dry-top snorkel to prevent water intake
- Anti-fog 180 degree lens
- Comfortable retaining straps
Moreover, SEAC Unica models meet the following EU regulations:
- requirements for snorkel tube design (EN 1972:2015)
- dive masks manufacturing requirements EN 16805:2015
- full face protection masks manufacturing requirements including checking CO2 level (EN 136:2000)
- compressed-air self-contained breathing apparatus regulations (EN 250:2014)
When is a full face snorkel mask dangerous?
…if it is fake, does not have patented design …people don’t use it correctly
Why can be a fake full face snorkel mask dangerous?
The original manufacturer spent ages on designing, testing full face snorkel masks involving the best engineers and designers. Unfortunately most products nowadays just cheap copycats without any technical background and knowledge. We heard about sellers who just buy a few thousand masks from (usually) Chinese wholesale sites, put their logo on them and start selling as their own product.
Yeah, they are those sellers who enter the market with attractive prices, make a good profit then disappear. No, don’t get me wrong, the problem is not that the product is made in China. A high-quality product made in China can be as good or even better than a product made in Europe, Australia, USA or anywhere in the world. I just use China as an example.
The problem is when manufacturers don’t own a patented, tested design, well-established process how to produce safe products. Instead just copy the outside design of a successful item and flood the market. Of course, customers get caught by lower prices, everybody loves to save money, right? Me too! But please collect information and think before the purchase, especially if it comes to your own or your family’s safety.
How to use your full face snorkeling mask correctly?
Full face snorkel masks can be used for easy surface snorkeling only! Easy surface snorkeling means you are rather just floating on surface than swimming. If you need to swim against waves, currents, or intensively for any reason, better use normal snorkel gear.
If you experience any difficulty, find your breathing heavy, remove the mask immediately. Never dive with full face masks! I know, you often see on photos people dive with them. Worse, that even the companies that want to sell the masks use these type of pictures… But this is a BIG NO, they are safe to use on surface only.
If you ever felt claustrophobic, go for a regular snorkel mask with tube. In order to have pleasant, safe experience, follow the basic rules of safe snorkeling!
What is our opinion?
It is not a secret, we are getting requests regularly from full face mask distributors to promote their products but we refuse these. The reason is simple: you could read in our Easybreath Full Face snorkel mask review that we tested the product, but we stick to our classic snorkel mask + tube combo.
We use to dive deep to be able to observe marine life better, take photos, so using a full face snorkel mask is not an option for us. We don’t participate in promoting products we don’t know and use. We list below masks that are safe and reliable based on feedback and tests, and made by trusted manufacturers.
There is also a new full face snorkeling mask available on the market designed and manufactured by the American Wildhorn Outfitters company. Although we haven’t tested it yet, but the Seaview 180 SV2 looks promising with an upgraded airflow system and side snorkel tube.
Most reliable full face snorkel masks
- Easybreath Tribord/Subea : Decathlon was the pioneer on the full face mask market inventing their patented design with engineers and watersport experts. They invested a lot of money and time to develop their products and they still do. They come up with product upgrades, providing warranty, replacement parts, and great customer service.
- Head Sea Vu Dry : Head is a leading global manufacturer and marketer of premium sports equipment and apparel. Although Head Sea Vu Dry is more expensive than other versions, you are buying products from a company with history and experience if it comes to sports including swimming and diving.
- SEAC Unica : A reputable Italian company that focuses on design and evolution. They entered the US market in 2012 now present worldwide as a leader in the diving sector. The company is offering a whole line of snorkel masks to provide a safe and comfortable underwater experience for everybody. SEAC Unica is their first full face model on the market that ensures a truly natural breathing experience.
Conclusion – Is full face snorkel mask dangerous or not?
Reading through some articles about recent full-face snorkel drowning deaths in Hawaii, so far nobody stated clearly that these deaths occurred due to wearing these masks. The question “full face snorkel mask dangerous” is still open for now.
Locals and tour operators say that more and more tourists decide to visit Hawaii that are inexperienced swimmers, not familiar with the fast-changing weather and water conditions. They see these factors higher risks than snorkeling in full face masks.
Dive center and shop owners think that the latest deaths can be related to the individual, their anxiety and such rather than the exact design of the mask itself. Beginner snorkelers are more prone to panic or hyperventilate in the water. They also mentioned that carbon dioxide can build up in normal snorkel tubes too, and remembered people to buy quality, trusted snorkel gear only.
To cut it short, snorkeling is a sport and you need to be physically prepared for it. Of course, if we get/find news related to the topic Full face snorkel mask dangerous, we will update you. We do our best and monitor the products/reviews we recommend on our channels.
If you still have concerns and have doubts if full face snorkel mask dangerous or not, go back to roots and get a classic mask + snorkel combo (Read how to choose snorkel mask)! Check the weather/water conditions prior snorkeling, and listen to your body; if you are not feeling well, don’t go snorkeling. Don’t snorkel alone. Despite all risks, snorkeling is a safe, easy and wonderful way of discovering our oceans if you follow some safety rules.
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