A study from South Korea has found that N95 masks can release harmful chemicals at levels eight times higher than safety guidelines suggest. The Mail has the story.
The surgical N95 mask has been held up as the gold standard when it comes to protecting against Covid.
But a study quietly re-shared by the National Institutes of Health in spring suggests the tight-fitting mask may expose users to dangerous levels of toxic chemicals.
Researchers from Jeonbuk National University in South Korea looked at two types of disposable medical-grade masks, as well as several reusable cotton masks.
The study found that the chemicals released by these masks had eight times the recommended safety limit of toxic volatile organic compounds (TVOCs).
Inhaling TVOCs has been linked to health issues like headaches and nausea, while prolonged and repeated use has been linked to organ damage and even cancer.
Samples A1 through B3 represent disposable masks, whereas samples C1 through E4 are cloth masks. Disposable masks had up to 14 times more TVOCs than cloth masks.
“It is clear that particular attention must be paid to the VOCs associated with the use of KF94 [medical] masks their effects on human health,” the researchers wrote in the study published in April.
However, there are ways to reduce the danger, they said. “Exposure can be significantly reduced if a mask is opened and left to sit for at least 30 min,” the researchers wrote.
This suggests that the packaging of these masks could play a role in the amount of chemicals they have.
The study was published in the journal Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety and on the NIH‘s website.
The NIH said: “Inclusion in an NLM database does not imply endorsement of, or agreement with, the contents by NLM or the National Institutes of Health.”
The researchers found that the levels of TVOCs were 14 times lower in cloth masks and didn’t pose a risk to human health.
However, the study did not measure the effect of people actually wearing the masks.
Dr. Stuart Fischer, an internal medicine physician in New York, told DailyMail.com that strong conclusions couldn‘t be drawn from the study.
However, he did say that increasingly evidence has shown the drawbacks of mask-wearing. He added that “there seems to be diminishing returns on the need for masks.”
In the latest study, researchers tested 14 disposable and cloth masks purchased online by measuring the amount of TVOCs in them. The disposable masks were KFAD and KF94 models, which were made from thermoplastics polypropylene and polyurethane nylon.
These masks have been popularized in South Korea, where the study was conducted, whereas KN95s are more popular in the U.S.
However, their differences are miniscule. KFADs and KF94s filter 94% of particles, while KN95s filter 95%.
The cloth masks were made from cotton, ramie – a vegetable fibre – and polyurethane.
“These TVOC concentration levels corresponded to a level that is harmless to the human body (no relevant health-related concerns),” the researchers wrote.
However, the disposable masks contained up to 14 times the TVOCs than cotton masks.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends keeping TVOC levels below 0.5 parts per million in indoor air.
The sample with the highest amount of TVOCs had 4,808 cubic meters per microgram, which is about 4.8 parts per million.
That’s more than eight times the recommended limit.
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: John Tierney, a former columnist for the New York Times who’s written a series of sceptical pieces about the lockdowns and related restrictions for City Journal, has just published a new piece about the growing drumbeat for the return of mandatory masking in America. He cites a number of studies showing masks make little or no difference in reducing the spread of Covid, including one published in the Lancet and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As with all John’s pieces, this one is worth reading in full.
Stop Press 2: David Strom in Hot Air says the Chocrane Review has been turned out by the scientific establishment since it published its sceptical review of masking.