by Simone M. Matthews
Medical Face Masks are manufactured for use in clinical environments and are recommended to be changed frequently. Where masks becomes too moist from breath/humidity they are required to be changed every 20 Minutes, or in other environments anywhere from a maximum of 1 to 2 hours. Medical Masks are disposable masks, which must be disposed of as a biological hazard.
Wearing Medical Face Masks by civilians, who are unlikely to change masks every 20 minutes by disposing & replacing, represents both a significant health risk to the general population AND to the environment.
Chemical Agents in Medical Masks
Masks contain both MicroPlastics plus PTFE or Polytetrafluoroethylene. Both these agents have significant effects on both our Health, but also on our Environment. And the effects will be felt for generations to come.
Disposable face masks (single use face masks) are produced from polymers such as polypropylene, polyurethane, polyacrylonitrile, polystyrene, polycarbonate, polyethylene, or polyester.
Masks represent a serious health threat to the environment through littering of public spaces (entering into rivers & oceans), or dumping in bins and entering landfill.
Although there is currently no unified international regulation on plastics regulation and pollution management, probably due to conflict of economic interests, few countries have however, put in place strict measures to curb the unabated proliferation of plastic waste.
If a person needs to wear a mask for say 10 hours of every day, and needs to change these every 20 minutes, that represents 30 masks per day, or 210 masks each week. This represents a HUGE burden on the environment and ultimately humanities long term health from plastic toxicity.
PTFE or Polytetrafluoroethylene
Medical Masks may contain PTFE or Polytetrafluoroethylene. This is a toxic chemical that has been linked to a variety of health issues, including cancer.
Please note that there are a lot of terms and acronyms for fluorochemicals, here is a summary of terms fyi:
The class, or family, of per- and poly-fluorinated compounds are sometimes called PFCs or PFASs.
Teflon® is the best known trade name for polytetrafluoroethylene- or PTFE-based fluorocarbon formulas.
PFOA and PFOS are two fluorochemicals that were widely used for decades. They are also called C8 to signify a chain of eight carbon atoms surrounded by fluorine atoms. In 2015, fifty years after scientists first documented their potential for human health harm, C8 was phased out in the US.
C8 has been replaced by many forms of similar, shorter-chain molecules called C6 (perfluorohexanoic acid or PFHA) and C4 (PFBS). These replacements are more rapidly excreted by humans but have not been well tested for toxicity. They are increasing in humans and the environment, and they appear to be associated with health harm similar to that of their “relative,” C8.
Whilst this is a contentious topic, there is no conclusive evidence (a apart from factless checkers ) that scientifically concurs that there is NO RISK to humans of wearing Medical Masks containing PTFE for extended periods of time.
Considering majority of people wear asks for longer than 20 minutes at a time, and in a range of environments from intense heat & humidity, and that masks are constantly being handled, folded in pockets damaging mask fibres and then reworn etc…, how can we conclusively say that PTFE containing masks are NOT a danger to health ?
PTFE also threatens the environment. There is no way to safely dispose of them. The fluorochemicals products that we produced in the past, continue to use, and/or dispose of in landfills will contaminate our environment for generations to come. The best strategy is to avoid buying & using products that contain fluorochemicals in the first place.