ARTICLE AND BLOG
Wasted Breath: Are You Inhaling Toxic Chemicals and Microplastics from Your Disposable Mask?
Masks have been instrumental in the battle against SARS-CoV-2. With total focus on masks’ performance against COVID-19, no attention has been given to the materials going into disposable masks, some of which may pose long-term health risks to the people wearing them.
Recent studies have indicated that disposable masks contain toxic chemicals and microplastics. So, are we filtering out SARS-CoV-2 but letting in something worse?
Read on to find out how to protect yourself from risks outside and inside your mask.
What are the concerns regarding disposable masks?
A great deal of research and testing has been dedicated to reviewing the performance of masks against SARS-CoV-2. Cumulative data has established that masks are an effective protection tool in limiting the spread of COVID-19. Specific disposable masks such as N95 and surgical masks are tested, approved, and regulated by federal and national agencies worldwide to ensure they comply with established performance standards. With global focus dedicated almost entirely to getting the pandemic under control, little consideration has been given to the materials used to make masks and their potential for causing harm in the long-term to the people wearing them. Now, two years into the pandemic, initial studies are indicating that the masks themselves could pose serious danger to their wearers due to the concerning cocktail of toxic chemicals and microplastics they contain.
In order to prevent health issues from prolonged mask-wearing, we need to understand the risks today and course-correct the type of masks we use for protection from COVID-19 to ensure the masks themselves are safe for use.
What are some of the toxic chemicals and concerning compounds found in disposable masks?
According to research carried out by German scientist Professor Michael Braungart and backed by similar results from Dr. Dieter Sedlak, disposable masks may contain harmful microplastics and potentially hazardous chemicals. In an interview for Ecotextile News they share their concerns regarding initial test results showing used surgical masks contain traces of carcinogen (cancer-causing) chemicals such as aniline, as well as formaldehyde and optical brighteners.
Additional chemicals found were perfluorocarbons (PFCs), bio-persistent chemicals which are restricted materials and closely monitored globally due to their accumulation in the body and in the environment and the negative effect on people’s health and the planet.
PFCs are man-made compounds normally added to products to increases their resistance to water, oil, stains, heat, and grease. According to the CDC and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) , some types of PFCs called Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS) have been shown to cause cancer and
disrupt reproductive, immunological, developmental and gland function, to name a few.
Another research found that surgical masks contain organic compounds that pose health risk to the mask wearer through inhalation and contact with skin. These semi volatile and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) included alkanes, phthalate esters, reactive carbonyls, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) such as naphthalene, the main ingredient in mothballs. The type and concentration of these compounds varied greatly from mask to mask, further highlighting the need for regulation of the chemicals that go into masks.
As the masks undergo natural wear and tear from being worn throughout the day, this friction also dislodges microplastics from the mask which are then inhaled by their wearer. This dust of microplastics is inhaled into the lungs and runs the risk of causing long-term lung issues.
Some populations are more susceptible to long-term lung damage due to extended use of masks throughout the day. These include schoolchildren, people on long flights and people wearing masks all day at work.
What can be done to fix the issue?
Additional research is needed to identify the types of chemicals going into disposable masks and their long-term health impact on people. Mask composition must be standardized with a list of restricted materials being issued to ensure no toxic chemicals are used to make masks. However, such actions will require time, focus and resources, and also offer only partial resolution as they do not resolve the issue of microplastic inhalation.
What is Sonovia doing to make masks that are both effective and safe?
When Sonovia was founded in 2013, the company was determined to save lives, improve people’s quality of life, and protect the planet from the negative impact of the textile industry. Sonovia purchased and commercialized patented innovative ultrasonic technology developed by researchers at world renowned Bar-Ilan University.
The technology offers an eco-friendly process for embedding desired nanoparticles into textiles, creating an upgraded, durable performance textile that contains 0 harmful chemical binders. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Sonovia leveraged its antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal fabric to make reusable fabric face masks.
The most updated version of its washable, breathable fabric masks, the SonoMask™ Pro , has been purchased and shipped all over the world to hundreds of thousands of customers. The fabric in Sonovia’s masks has undergone rigorous testing and is proven to be completely safe for use , while n eutralizing viruses including SARS-CoV-2 and its Delta variant, bacteria and fungi with over 99% efficacy.
The SonoMask™ Pro has also been tested and proven to filter 3 μm airborne particles with an impressive 97% efficacy , offering you top notch protection with none of the risks of disposable masks. Sonovia’s fabric masks are reusable and washable, with their performance lasting for over 55 washes.
One SonoMask™ Pro replaces hundreds of disposable masks that contain compounds that are dangerous to humans and continue on to pollute the environment as well.
As masks continue to accompany us long-term while we carry on with our battle against the pandemic, our thinking about masks needs to shift to long-term as well. With research now starting to pivot toward unraveling the chemicals that go into disposable masks, we uncover some disturbing findings regarding risks to our health from long-term use of disposable masks.
To prevent any additional potential damage from being bioaccumulated in our bodies, we should be making smart choices about the mask we use today. The SonoMask™ Pro offers a reliable, responsible, safe choice that is high on protection as well as safety.