Experts have raised concerns over and warned of probable ‘early pulmonary toxicity’ related to Nanotechnology derived Graphene used in the manufacturing of facemasks which makes safety checks and balances seriously questionable.
Facemasks are supposed to protect us, not to expose us to the greater danger of toxic chemicals or materials.
Radio Canada disclosed that locals of Quebec and Ottawa were being told not to use facemasks that contain specific type of Graphene as these masks could probably be harmful.
Graphene is a form of carbon that contains nanoscopically thin flakes of hexagonally-arranged carbon atoms. The material can be beneficial and it is able to kill bacteria and viruses when they are exposed to it.
Though it has many beneficial properties, but scientific jury raises question against safety of this material.
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Like the other materials, the potential health risks related to graphene depends on if it can enter in your body, what it does after getting into your body and how much of it is required to cause enough damage to be worried about.
These being basic queries, unfortunately there are not many answers available when it comes to the material’s use in facemasks.
Present worries about using Graphene in facemasks come from a memo sent to the Canadian Provincial and Territorial Ministries of health by Health Canada on 25th March.
The memo still has not been made public although it does quote plans to release a public statement.
In the memo, Health Canada recommends users to “stop purchasing and using face masks containing nanoform graphene”.
Health Canada recommended in the memo that users stop buying and using facemasks that contains Nanoform graphene used in a growing order of facemasks available commercially.
“Health Canada has conducted a preliminary risk assessment which identified a potential for early pulmonary toxicity associated with the inhalation of nanoform graphene.”
“To date, Health Canada has not received data to support the safety and efficacy of face masks containing nanoform graphene.”
“As such, and in the absence of manufacturer’s evidence to support the safe and effective use of nanoform graphene coated masks, Health Canada considers the risk of these medical devices to be unacceptable.”
Early signs of concerns regarding Graphene were sparked by previous research on another form of carbon – carbon nanotubes. It is found that some form of these fiber-like materials can cause serious issues if it gets into the body.
Graphene does not have same chemical or physical properties as carbon nanotubes, it indicates that it can be safer than nanotubes cousins. Though it’s not as harmful as its nanotubes cousins, but still it can be harmful.
In recent years there have been a number of comprehensive reviews on the potential toxicity of graphene, including this 2018 paper by Bengt Fadeel and colleagues, and this one by Vanesa Sanches and colleagues.
Both are solid reviews by highly respected research teams. And both indicate that, while the toxicity of graphene is complex and may be low in some cases, it isn’t negligible.
When someone inhales it, it can get into lower parts of lungs. If it is inhaled in high concentration, it can lead to an inflammatory response.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, people all across the globe have started using facemasks to prevent the spread of infection from one person to the other.
Also the government and health ministries of several countries are encouraging people to wear facemasks whenever they step outside their home. But till date the efficacy of the facemasks in controlling the spread is not determined.
Read this detailed study to find out how effective are facemasks against COVID?