Independent studies by two German scientists have revealed that wearing face masks in the long term could result in an accumulation of various chemicals and microplastics in the lungs.
Dr Michael Braungart, director at the Hamburg Environmental Institute and co-founder of the Cradle to Cradle NGO, warned of the risk of breathing in carcinogens, allergens and tiny synthetic microfibres by wearing face masks for long periods of time.
He said: “What we are breathing through our mouth and nose is actually hazardous waste.”
Thus traces of chemical substances such as aniline, as well as formaldehyde which are known carcinogens and are both restricted for consumption can easily be found in used masks.
Dr Braungart added: “All in all, we have a chemical cocktail in front of our nose and mouth that has never been tested for either toxicity or any long-term effects on health.”
His research was supported by another scientist, textile chemist Dr Dieter Sedlak who is a managing director and co-founder of Modern Testing Services Augsburg in Germany and has discovered increased concentrations of hazardous fluorocarbons, formaldehyde and other potentially carcinogenic substances on surgical face masks.
Dr Sedlak backed up his colleague’s research by saying: “I can only say 100 percent that I have similar concerns to Prof. Braungart.”
Additional studies conducted by Dr Sedlak have shown presence by-products of perfluorocarbons (PFCs) on face masks which are known to be bio-persistent and used as oil and water repellents in fabrics.
Their use is heavily restricted by European and US authorities.
Dr Sedlak said: “Honestly, I had not expected PFCs would be found in a surgical mask, but we have special routine methods in our labs to detect these chemicals easily and immediately identify them. This is a big issue.”
“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 not good.”
Both scientists agreed that surgical masks were initially designed to be worn for a short period of time.
Even textile masks are not safe, despite the risks associated with harmful chemicals on clothing are lower, according to textile chemical expert Phil Patterson of Colour Connections.
The initial analysis of the two experts have now raised the question whether face masks alternatives should be taken into consideration especially regarding certain target groups, such as schoolchildren or factory workers.
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Story By: Georgina Jadikovska, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
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