What are the Hazards of Gaphene found in FFP2 Masks?

Three white FFP2 face protection masks, grey background

Various medical unions in different hospitals and workplaces in our country have asked their managements to immediately withdraw all FFP2 masks whose composition contains graphene, a compound that could be toxic and damage the lungs when inhaled. This request is made after the Canadian Government has ordered the withdrawal from the market of all respirators that use graphene in their composition, to assess their potential health risk.

Hazards

  • There is a potential risk of inhalation of graphene nanoparticles, a toxic material.
  • The Government of Canada has withdrawn this type of face mask from the market.
  • The OCU has asked the Ministry of Health for clear guidelines on these masks.

In our country we have known the recent order of withdrawal of two masks with graphene by the Basque Government and also that of Castilla y León, a decision that joins that of the Hospital de Salamanca, which has already withdrawn the masks with graphene of the brand ‘Shenquean-Iturri’. In Madrid, they have already been withdrawn from hospitals such as Alcalá de Henares or Vallecas Hospital.

Recommendation

The recommendation for the withdrawal of FFP2 masks that use graphene in their composition is based on the potential risk of inhalation of graphene nanoparticles, a material that could cause pulmonary toxicity. The Canadian government’s recall of these masks, based on the precautionary principle, will remain in force until a full safety assessment of these products has been carried out.

For its part, the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU) of our country, has today asked the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to give clear and rapid guidelines on the use of masks in the manufacture of which graphene is used. Meanwhile OCU reminds consumers that for the general population the recommendation is to use hygienic masks and that these should be purchased in trusted establishments.

The OCU recalls that since the pandemic began the European alert system on product safety RAPEX has warned of more than 188 unsafe or dangerous masks, and not all are approved, so it recommends consumers to buy the recommended masks in trusted establishments.

All about Graphene

What is graphene and how can it affect health? Graphene is a material composed of carbon atoms, very common in the manufacture of many utensils in industry, for its lightness and strength properties. Its properties as a conductor of electricity and heat and its extreme resistance (it can crack but does not break on impact) have made its use in health masks very popular, as several layers of graphene superimposed on top of each other act as an effective filter for viruses.

Little is known about the health risks of this new material, but Canadian health authorities warn that using this material in the manufacture of daily face masks can lead to the inhalation of microparticles, which could cause lung toxicity.

Conclusion

In a note from Health Canada they state that “inhaled graphene particles were identified as having some potential to cause early lung toxicity in animals”. With this they justify their withdrawal to evaluate the possible impact on people, because they remind that “the health risk to people of any age is unclear”.

Currently, a full and detailed scientific evaluation is awaited to determine the real risk of masks made of this material, but until then the recommendation is not to use them.