New research and articles confirm that some face masks can cause harm to people if used for a
prolonged period of time. Dangerous levels of formaldehyde, as well as fluorocarbons, have
been detected when masks have been worn long enough. PFCs (perfluorochemicals), are
normally used in textiles in order to add a protective layer on items such as jackets and bags but
are not meant to be inhaled.
Professor Braungart of the Hamburg Environmental Institute stated that when examining blue
surgical masks, they also:
“found cobalt […] 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”
He carried on to warn that the hazard does not end there but extends to the way the masks are stored.
The pandemic skyrocketed the demand for face masks and some of these are not regulated,
falling short of medical PPE standards. Over 80% of all masks are manufactured in China and
concerns have been raised as to the standards of manufacturing and supply chains. Because
face masks are not intended to be worn by the public, they are not classed as PPE which
means they do not undergo the same checks that masks intended for medical personnel do and
the responsibility falls on the manufacturer and their local authorities.
The World Health Organisation recently announced its advice for fabric masks. Specifically
that they ‘’should ideally be made of three layers of fabric’’.