Apr 7, 2021
COVID-19: Is Your Mask Safe?
Do you know what your mask is made of?
Your mask will keep you from inhaling at least some infected droplets that are too large to get through the gaps, but at the price of inhaling whatever tiny particles are coming from the mask itself.
Some worry that mask components may be the new asbestos, inhaled all day long from a source right in front of your nose.
Health Canada has issued a warning about blue and gray disposable face masks, which contain an asbestos-like substance associated with “early pulmonary toxicity.” The SNN200642 masks, which are made in China and sold and distributed by a Quebec-based company called Métallifer, had been part of Canada’s public school reopening plan.
The masks contain microscopic graphene particles. Graphene is a strong, very thin material. Some daycare educators had expressed concerns when children complained that they felt they were swallowing cat hair.
A similar disposable mask, known as MC9501, was likewise recalled throughout Canada after 31.1 million had been distributed by government.
Nearly all face masks increase the daily intake of microplastic fibers. Scientists first discovered microplastics in the lung tissue of some patients who died of lung cancer in the 1990s. Plastic degrades slowly, so once in the lungs it tends to stay there and build up. Some studies have found that the immune system can attack these foreign objects, causing prolonged inflammation that can lead to diseases such as cancer. Reused masks produced more loosened fibers.
The nonwoven material in disposable surgical masks is melt-blown polypropylene plastic, which the masks can be shown to shed when examined under a microscope. Virus adhering to these microparticles can survive for days. The symptoms a surgeon experienced after wearing one such mask for four hours were like those he had had when working with fiberglass.
Some masks contain fiberglass. One anesthesiologist said she can feel the fiberglass in the disposables and now only wears flimsy nylon masks.
The mask that your child may be forced to wear likely does not meet National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) safety standards. What might it be doing to his little lungs?
Jane M. Orient, M.D.
Executive Director, Association of American Physicians and Surgeons