There's been a lot of discussion lately about the effectivity of cloth & DIY face masks against the spread of the Covid19 virus . Although scientists tend to agree that widespread use of cloth masks will reduce the rate of contagion , there is little to no discussion about the actual safety of the masks themselves.
We have seen every kind of fabric used to make masks and we can tell you , many of those are not safe to be on your face all day ! (No that old curtain with the cute Hyppo pattern is not a good idea for your next facemask)
Although the fabric of your facemask probably isn't killing you, it could contain some unpleasant chemicals. Modern fabrics are often formulated and treated with compounds that help soften them or prevent them from getting stained, wrinkled, or soggy. Those same compounds have been linked to adverse health effects such as skin irritation, developmental issues, and even cancer.
Take a look at some of the common chemicals that could be lurking in your DIY (or not) mask .
- Lead . According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive lead exposure can affect the state of the whole body. And since there are no obvious signs of its harmful effects, this is often overlooked. According to the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, lead poisoning in children under 6 years of age can seriously affect their mental and physical development.
- NFE (nonylphenol ethoxylates and nonylphenols) . According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, accumulating in the tissues of the body, they can disrupt the work of hormones and lead to a negative development of reproductive functions.
- Phthalates . As endocrine disruptors, phthalates can disrupt hormone levels and even cause breast cancer.
-PFC (perfluorinated and polyfluorinated chemicals) . According to the National Institute of Ecology and the Environment, studies on the effects of PFC compounds carried out on animals revealed disruption of the normal activity of endocrine activity, reduced functions of the immune system, as well as a negative impact on liver and pancreas function. At present, the effect on the human body has not been fully studied, but various combinations of PFCs, such as PFOS and PFOA, have led to kidney disease and cancer.
- Formaldehyde . Prolonged exposure to formaldehyde can cause nausea, burning in the eyes, nose and throat, cough, and skin irritation, according to a study by the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
On top of all the above , many fabrics are not suitable to be in constant touch with the delicate skin of your face ! Fabrics that have a rough texture or fabrics with loose fibers can create skin irritations and allergies.
Taking all this into account, people should be sceptical about using just any fabric to create a face mask. A good way to make sure that your mask is made of a fabric that will not put your health in danger is the Oekotex certification.
What is the Oekotex standard though and how does it help you fell safer ? Put simply, Oeko Tex fabric is fabric that has been certified free from harmful substances and is therefore deemed safe. The Oeko-Tex 100 certification does emphasize thorough testing for a lengthy list of chemicals which are known or suspected to harm health, including lead, antimony, arsenic, phthalates, pesticides, and chlorinated phenols.
The Oekotex certification is a great starting point for everyone that is concerned about the safety of their face mask . There are ofcourse other topics that delve into the matter of safety of fabrics even deeper and we hope to discuss them in a future article.
Until then stay safe and always protected !