SCIENTISTS have found that dangerous chemical pollutants including lead, antimony, and copper are released from disposable face masks when they are submerged in water. The chemicals are in the silicon-based and plastic fibres of common disposable face masks are made.
Swansea University researchers tested a variety of masks, from standard plain face masks to novelty and festive masks for children, many sold in UK retail outlets.
They found significant levels of pollutants in all the masks, with micro/nano particles and heavy metals released into the water during all tests. They conclude this will have a substantial environmental impact and, in addition, they raise the question of the potential damage to public health. They warn that repeated exposure could be hazardous as the substances found have known links to cell death, genotoxicity and cancer formation.
As they say, this is a significant concern, especially for health care professionals, key workers, and children who are forced to wear masks for much of the working or school day.
You can read the full research report here.