Leading scientists are now questioning whether
the real risk of exposure to potentially hazardous chemicals
long-term mask wearing is actually higher
than the risk of coming into contact with the Sars-CoV-2
virus -- especially for children and young adults who are
in the low-risk category when it comes to developing severe
Ecotextile news published by MCL News &
Media is one of the world's leading environmental magazines
for the global textile and clothing trade. (1)
Last week Ecotextile News reported that "German
scientists have found that wearing certain types of face
masks for long periods of time could result in potentially
hazardous chemicals and harmful microplastics being inhaled
deep into human lungs...."
Nate Sponsler, director at the AFIRM Group
that represents over 30 well-known consumer brands, such
as Amazon, Nike and Levi Strauss said "We have not
yet done any formal data aggregation or studies specific
to face masks, so I'm glad this issue is being highlighted,"
Professor Michael Braungart, director at the
Hamburg Environmental Institute and co-founder of the world-renowned
Cradle to Cradle environmental standard has told Ecotextile
News that mask wearers unwittingly run the risk of breathing
in carcinogens, allergens and tiny synthetic microfibres
by wearing both textile and nonwoven surgical masks for
long periods of time.
His recent findings have been backed up by
another leading industry textile chemist Dr. Dieter Sedlak
who found elevated concentrations of hazardous fluorocarbons,
formaldehyde and other potentially carcinogenic substances
on surgical face masks: "I can only say 100 per cent
that I have similar concerns to Prof. Braungart."
With over 40 years in the business, Dr. Sedlak
is one of the most respected figures in the textile chemicals
sector and helped to develop various leading EHS chemical
management systems and RSL concepts used today by major
global apparel and footwear brands.
"What we are breathing through our mouth
and nose is actually hazardous waste," said Professor
Braungart, who ran preliminary tests on used surgical masks
that found traces of chemicals such as the known carcinogen
aniline as well as formaldehyde and optical brighteners
-- both heavily restricted on consumer goods by European
and US authorities to minute parts per million concentrations.
Separate studies by Dr. Sedlak have also shown
the presence of compounds such as 2-butanone oxime (carcinogenic)
blocked diisocyanates used as crosslinkers for perfluorocarbons
(PFCs) on face masks.
Used in the textile sector as oil and water
repellents on fabrics, by-products of PFCs are known to
be bio-persistent and their use is heavily restricted by
authorities in Europe and the USA.
"Honestly, I had not expected PFC's would
be found in a surgical mask, but we have special routine
methods in our labs to detect these chemicals easily and
can immediately identify them. This is a big issue,"
explained Dr. Sedlak.
"It seems this had been deliberately
applied as a fluid repellent -- it would work to repel the
virus in an aerosol droplet format -- but PFC on your face,
on your nose, on the mucus membranes, or on the eyes is
Like Sedlak, Braungart noted that surgical
masks have been designed to be worn for very specific purposes
such as by clinicians or for a short period of time before
They are not designed to be crumpled up in
people's pockets where the "friction and damp environment
promotes both fibre abrasion and encourages bacterial colonisation
over time," he said.
This abrasion can, he says, cause the release
of tiny microplastics as the polypropylene fibres break
down from mechanical wear and tear, finding in tests that
some masks shed microfibres classed as hazardous 'dust'
by the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV).
Earlier this week the Canadian Health Department
published a statement saying it “is advising Canadians
not to use face masks that contain graphene because there
is a potential that they could inhale graphene particles,
which may pose health risks.(2)
Graphene is a novel nanomaterial (materials
made of tiny particles) reported to have antiviral and antibacterial
Health Canada conducted a preliminary scientific
assessment after being made aware that masks containing
graphene have been sold with COVID-19 claims and used by
adults and children in schools and daycares. Health Canada
believes they may also have been distributed for use in
health care settings.
Health Canada's preliminary assessment of
available research identified that inhaled graphene particles
had some potential to cause early lung toxicity in animals.
Health Canada has requested data from mask
manufacturers to assess the potential health risks related
to their masks that contain graphene.
Until the Department completes a thorough
scientific assessment and has established the safety and
effectiveness of graphene-containing face masks, it is taking
the precautionary approach of removing them from the market
while continuing to gather and assess information.
Health Canada has directed all known distributors,
importers and manufacturers to stop selling and to recall
the affected products. Additionally, Health Canada has written
to provinces and territories advising them to stop distribution
and use of masks containing graphene. (2)
Throughout the pandemic it has been de rigour
among a certain breed of journalists when they are writing
about anyone railing against the prevailing norms to throw
in the killer punchline "anti-masker" to vilify
and discredit the people involved.
"Anti-mask protesters a dangerous influence
on the young, says Diarmuid Martin" was an Irish Times
headline last October accompanying a report about the Archbishop
of Dublin's interview on Newstalk's Pat Kenny show. (3)
From the Getgo I have not been anti mask.
I gave a fulsome account of my stance when masks were made
mandatory last July, a view that was endorsed by the left.
"The world will not be destroyed by those
who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything."
--- Albert Einstein