Face masks have been a necessity for the safety and protection of users, especially during the Covid times. Wearing a face mask became a way of living during the pandemic conditions. It provided effective protection against the microparticles that could be harmful and can be a reason for spreading the diseases; however, it was observed that despite the benefits associated with the use of these masks, there were certain risks involved in way that while breathing in the masks the users were inhaling cotton and polyester fibers, as according to the studies that were conducted at a wide scale it was noted that among the users that had been using masks frequently, there had been an increased intake of microplastic fibers while wearing them. This is because of the fact that these masks are designed in a way that they have a very fragile structure. With the structure, so fragile. The cotton and polyester fibers of mouth masks are often seen to be breathed in with the air. These fibers are highly dangerous for health as they can lead to serious health problems. However, the benefits that it provided during the pandemic overruled the fact that these masks have been causing damage to health by damaging the lungs.
The type of damage that was caused by the use of these masks was first discovered by scientists in the tissue of some patients who died of lung cancer in 1990 due to the deposition of microplastics in the lungs. There are various different studies that have highlighted the type of damage that could be a result of breathing in such materials, as there are various health conditions that could be caused.
Not only the deposition, but it also makes things worst in a way that the plastics degrade slowly, so once it gets into the lungs and is deposited, it tends to stay there for a long time and build up in volume. There are certain studies according to which the immune system of the body can attack foreign objects in the form of fibers. This prolonged inflammation can lead to serious diseases like cancer.
Despite these risks, the face masks are designed in a way that they are effective in preventing the transmission of airborne diseases like coronavirus. However, for this purpose, a variety of materials can be used. In order to manufacture these masks, the most commonly seen to be used material is in the form of Recycled Polyester fabric, cotton, organic polymer, and various other materials that could be used to manufacture masks. Although the use of cotton or organic polymer offers lesser protection, they can offer greater comfort for daily use. There is also a lesser chance of fibers being breathed in or the deposition of fibers in the lungs; thus, there is less chance of serious diseases like cancer. Thus, the type of face mask that is commonly seen to be used is made up of three layers of melt-blown textile that is made up of polypropylene. In the case of the homemade cotton masks that are frequently seen to be used, we see that They might offer lesser protection but greater comfort.
Masks can be an excellent product that can filter air pollutants in an effective manner according to the requirement, but except for N95, all the masks that are produced are known to produce more microplastic fibers than the number of particles that they usually filter out. In the case of the N95 masks, we get to see that these masks are designed to filter out almost 95% of the airborne particles preventing diseases. Thus, they are widely seen to be used in industries and for medical applications as well as these are the masks that are based on higher standards and have a strong, firm structure. However, it is observed that using an N95 mask for too long can lead to issues like fatigue and storage of oxygen, as warned by the experts based on the studies and research. This is the reason that in certain countries, these masks are reserved only for the use of front-line health workers as they are at higher risk. It is for the same reason that experts suggest not using the same mask ever again, as reusing a used mask can lead to such issues because of the fact that the used masks produce a lot more loosened fibers as the structure of the mask is already damaged. One could observe the worst kind of structural changes could be observed with the use of alcohol and the application of other such strong chemicals, as they can damage the structure in the worst ways.
Other ways of cleaning masks can be in the form of methods like exposing them to ultraviolet light. Are methods can be effective against germs, but even these methods can cause a little damage to the structure of the mask, causing the fibers to lose. However, according to the researchers, the method of using soap and water to wash the mask can be damaging to some extent but not much, as it can be considered a better way to reuse a mask. When it comes to the exact health side, we see that the effects that are caused by the broken-off fiber are unclear. However, there is a serious risk associated with the inhalation of these fibers. Thus, it is suggested that although people should be informed about the risks associated with inhalation, they should still continue to wear masks in order to protect themselves from serious risks and diseases. People should be informed about the ways that could make it worse and the ways that could make it better, and they should also be informed how used masks add to the litter and how they contribute to water pollution and harmful plastics.