Personal protection equipment may not protect as much as it harms. Since the unforgettable year of 2020, PPE has enmeshed itself into the fabric of society. As a society, we are searching for ways to overcome the fear of COVID19 through various layers of face masks, sterilization methods, gloves, and more. In 2021, these responses have consequences when this study shows that various toxins are released from the disposable masks into our environment and possibly into our bodies. Knowledge of these risks will help you discern and respond more wisely.
COVID19 will be a defining event for this generation. How we learn to overcome this pandemic rather than just adapt to a new normal will determine our future. A pandemic, whether we fully believe in it or not, should not force us to forget logic and common sense, such as the reality that actions have more than one consequence. Many will proclaim that we have no choice but to “mask up” protecting ourselves and/or protecting others from this horrible plague. They beat the drum that masks prevent disease spread. Even if they are correct that masks prevent disease, they must not- and we must not let them- forget that such effects on COVID-19 are not the only results of mask wearing.
This study examined the toxins which could be released from the disposable masks when trashed and exposed to inevitable water saturation. Such a study was needed when millions of masks are being produced daily and thrown away after one or more uses. The trashed masks do not just evaporate and disappear into thin air as much as everyone would like them to do. Instead, they are filling landfills and oceans.
The chemicals, toxic or not, from these masks will be saturating our environment if new normal continues. Given the questionable sanity we have seen in some public health decisions like our Tennessee governor purchasing masks from a sock company (many problems there), someone has to ask this question concerning what a mask is made of. We can’t ignore the effects on our environment and more importantly, or so I would argue, the effects of such possible toxins or irritants in our lungs.
With this undeniable logic in place, we consider what this research discovered about the chemicals found in these face masks. In looking at masks in Britain, from the plain to the decorative sold in retail outlets, they report some concerning findings. All the masks tested revealed significant pollutants in significant levels. When exposed to water, nano-particles and heavy metals were released. Cadmium, antimony, lead, and copper were released. Organic polymers surfactants, dyes, and polyethylene glycol were released.
We deserve answers to the question they pose in their introduction… “whether DPFs are safe to be used on a daily basis and what consequences are to be expected after their disposal into the environment”. Just because healthcare providers have been using these masks for years does not mean children should be wearing them in school all day. Just because the masks produced before 2020 may have been safe does not mean the current producers of masks are providing safe masks without toxins and harmful substances.
In helping patients live healthier more abundant lives, functional MD’s like myself consider as many foreseeable consequences of therapies as possible before offering that therapy. I simply ask that public health officials consider these consequences of forcing the population to breathe through toxin laden masks hours daily. Consider how our polluting the environment with hundreds of millions of mask daily undermines our stewardship of the environment and poisons our children’s future world. Stop. Look at the facts. Ask questions. Discern. Decide wisely. It is this simple.
G.L. Sullivan, J. Delgado-Gallardo, T.M. Watson, S. Sarp. An investigation into the leaching of micro and nano particles and chemical pollutants from disposable face masks – linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. Water Research, 2021; 196: 117033 DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2021.117033
Thanks to Science Daily:
Swansea University. “Nanoplastics and other harmful pollutants found in disposable face masks: Regulation and research urgently needed, say experts.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 May 2021. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/05/210504112637.htm>.
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.