Questions raised about the safety of full face 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.
- 1 Why can be a full face snorkel mask dangerous?
- 2 Full face mask manufacturer breathing test results
- 3 Using full face snorkel mask dangerous if…
- 4 What is our opinion?
- 5 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. Breathing part seals the mouth and nose off from the viewing part. On the top of this part, you find little valves which 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 choose the right full face snorkel mask size.
Full face mask manufacturer breathing test results
Since full face masks are new on market, little information available on them and it became an urgent matter to state if they are dangerous or safe to use. So far the 2 biggest manufacturers, Decathlon-Subea and HEAD/Mares 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.
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.”
Subea Easybreath test results
Being Easybreath is one of the most popular product 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)
- 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
Using full face snorkel mask dangerous if…
…it is fake, does not have patented design
…people don’t use it correctly
How do I mean 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 than disappear. No, don’t get me wrong, the problem is not that the product is made in China. 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 our own or family’s safety.
How to use your full face snorkeling mask?
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 can be used 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: although we tested the original Easybreath Full Face mask and shared our review on the blog with you, 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. Although you can see we included some full face snorkel masks in our Snorkeling Shop and also mention some in our articles. Based on feedback and tests, these masks are safe and reliable if you use them as you should, made by trusted manufacturers.
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.Tribord EasyBreath Full Face, Anti-Fog, Hypoallergenic Silicone Facial Lining Snorkeling Mask, Atoll, S/M
- 180 degree field of vision and shatterproof polycarbonate window for added safety.
- Full mask for natural breathing through the nose and/or mouth.
- Exclusive breath ventilation concept prevents fogging.
- Snorkel top can be seen from 4 times further away than a traditional Snorkel.
- Generally, XS is for childen, S/M is for women and teenagers, L/XL is for men.
- 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.SaleHEAD Sea Vu Dry Full Face Snorkeling Mask, Small/Medium, White
- No fogging Natural breathing through mouth or nose
- Natural breathing through mouth or nose
- Dry top snorkel - keeps water out
- Wide lens for superior viewing
- Comfortable silicone sealing skirt
Best rated full face snorkeling masks on Amazon
Based on product tests, customer feedback and reviews these versions can be a good choice:
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! 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.
If you have any thoughts you’d like to share related to full face masks, leave a comment! We wish you safe snorkeling adventures!
Anett fell in love with the ocean immediately when she put her head underwater in the Red Sea back in 2010. Discovering megacities is not her style but getting lost in tiny coastal villages, capturing the beauty of the sea while snorkeling. Wherever she goes, she takes her mask, fins and underwater camera with her. She has a big interest in exploring the world’s last hidden underwater paradises and marine conservation. She hopes to inspire people to protect our oceans by sharing her underwater stories. Find her photos on @anett.szaszi Instagram too!