Mask safety matters
That mask you are wearing to keep you safe from coronavirus may actually be making you sick.
Disposable face masks contain potential carcinogens, according to Health Canada.
As reported by CBC News, blue and gray masks have graphene in them. Graphene is a lung irritant. It may cause “early pulmonary toxicity,” health officials say.
Some daycare educators had been suspicious of these grey and blue masks for a while,” Radio-Canada reports, “because they felt like they were swallowing cat hair while wearing them…”
Canadian health officials issued a warning about another disposable mask, the MC9501, after the government distributed 31.1 million masks to 15,000 daycares. They called MC9501 mask safety into question because the mask did not effectively filter pathogens.
Questioning mask safety
When it comes to mask safety, there are two questions:
- Can the mask be worn without causing harm to your lungs or disrupting your oxygen intact?
- Is the mask you’re wearing helping reduce your risk of exposure to Covid-19?
Unfortunately, nearly all disposable face masks have safety issues.
According to a study by researchers in China, “disposable” masks (except N95s) contain plastic fibers. And when you wear them for a long time and continually inhale plastic you risk harming your lungs.
A second mask safety study, published in October of 2020, found another cause for concern. Face masks aren’t just harming humans, they’re also polluting the planet.
The increase in production and consumption of face mask across the world has given rise to a new environmental challenge,” these scientists explain, “adding to the vast plastic and plastic particle waste in the environment. Some of these materials are getting into waterways from where they reach the freshwater and marine environment adding to the presence of plastics in the aquatic medium. For instance, OceansAsia, an organization committed to advocacy and research on marine pollution, reported in February 2020, the presence of face masks of different types and colours in an ocean in Hong Kong.”
So mask safety is not just a problem for humans. Littered face masks also have the potential to harm the environment, contaminate the oceans, and even threaten our food supply.
Published in the international multi-disciplinary peer-reviewed journal Science of the Total Environment, this mask safety research concludes on a worrisome note.
“Who knows?” the scientists ask, “Plastic pollution may be the next world pandemic.”
Some of us worry it already is.
Published: April 8, 2021
Last update: February 24, 2022