Masks that protect you from harmful PFAS

Manufacturers design masks not only to prevent the inhalation of particles and pathogens but also to repel liquids, so some companies may add PFAS coating to their products. During the current pandemic, people have been wearing face masks for extended periods of time, which could expose them to PFAS through inhalation, skin contact, or accidental ingestion.

In addition, used masks end up in landfills, where compounds can be released into the environment. Ivan Titaley at Oregon State University and colleagues wanted to measure PFAS in different types of respirators and analyze the effects on human and environmental exposure.

The researchers used mass spectrometry to measure non-volatile and volatile PFAS in nine masks: one surgical, one N95, six reusable fabrics, and one heat-resistant fabric mask. advertised for firefighters.

Surgical and N95 masks have the lowest, while fire masks have the highest.

Next, the team estimated the dose of PFAS that could cause health problems from chronic exposure, based on previous studies in animals.

According to calculations, regularly wearing cloth masks, N95 and surgery will not cause risks. However, higher levels of PFAS in a firefighter mask exceed doses considered safe, but only when worn all day (10 hours) at high levels of activity, such as exercise or working out. way to enhance the wearer’s breathing.

Next, the researchers analyzed the environmental impact of PFAS from surgical masks and N95 respirators (which account for more than 99% of masks that end up in landfills). They estimate that even if everyone in the US over the age of 5 threw away one mask a day (90 billion masks a year), masks would be only a small source of PFAS in landfill leachate. and potable water.

According to the researchers, this study should encourage the public to continue wearing masks, especially during a pandemic. It can also help people make informed decisions about which masks to wear and encourage manufacturers to consider the chemicals used in masks, they explained.

The authors acknowledge funding or support from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture, and the North Carolina Department of Policy Cooperation.

Source: Eurekalert

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