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Just when we Spaniards thought we already knew everything about masks, along comes a new and unexpected twist in the script of the pandemic we are living through.

Pandemic Fatigue Puts Us to the Test

As if citizens didn’t have enough to do with knowing how to tell an FFP2 from a surgical mask, how many hours they can use each of them, how to store them properly when they take them off for coffee, or how many degrees they should wash their reusable hygiene masks at, now they have to check whether or not the ones they usually use contain graphene.

Pandemic fatigue is testing us more and more, but if you don’t want to despair at this latest turn of events, I invite you to continue reading this article completely free of graphene nanoparticles.

What is Graphene?

Graphene is a material discovered in 2004 by physicists Konstantin Novoselov and Andre Geim. It consists of carbon atoms grouped into a two-dimensional sheet, and its structure resembles that of a honeycomb, which gives it high strength and elasticity (it is harder and more resistant than diamond) despite its small thickness. Nowadays it is also considered the best conductor of electricity and heat there is.

In what Objects is it Present?

Graphene is more present in our daily life than we can imagine. In fact, it is a material that occurs in nature and that we have had in our hands since childhood: The graphite at the tip of a pencil is made up of layers and layers of graphene that break when we run the pencil across the paper.

Since its discovery, engineers have taken advantage of its great properties and used it in touchscreens, cell phones, stereos, etc…. But it is also often used in fabrics because of its high breaking strength, such as bulletproof vests.

How does this Material get into a Mask?

Because of its bactericidal properties. Among the many properties of this material is that it is able to prevent the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi where they are present. For this reason, some manufacturers have decided to include it in the usual materials that make up a mask, to provide additional protection.

Why is Graphene Dangerous?

Since it is such a newly discovered material, there are few scientific studies about its safety. What science has proven is that if we inhale graphene particles in high concentration and for a long period of time, it can cause pneumonia.

So the risk would be in breathing in graphene nanoparticles that could come off the mask if used, never in touching it with our hands.

Is it dangerous to Humans?

The warning comes from Canadian health authorities, who have advised their citizens not to use masks containing this material, and the warning has spread to several countries in a domino effect.

For the preventive withdrawal of this type of masks, they rely on the preliminary results of a study conducted by Health Canada, which states that “inhaled graphene particles have some potential to cause early pulmonary toxicity in animals.”

Have they reached the Spanish Market?

Yes, at the moment there are several autonomous municipalities that have ordered all masks containing this material in their composition to be withdrawn from sale as a precautionary measure. Whether they are of the type FFP2 or disposable surgery.

These masks are not only for sale, but also distributed and used by medical staff in various hospitals.

What types of Masks are affected?

Specifically, those made by Shandong Shengquan, in its disposable surgical products IIR (distributed by Amevisa S.A.U.) and FFP2 Healfiber (distributed by Iturri S.A.).

How do I know if my Mask contains Graphene?

We have several ways to find out. The first and most advisable is to look at the packaging of the mask itself: If it states there that it contains graphene or graphene biomass, then there is no room for doubt. (Not always these indications are on the packaging!).

The second way is to find out if the manufacturer of our mask is Shandong Shengquan company, which is not always easy.

And the last option, and perhaps the fastest, is to check if the part of the mask that is in contact with our face has a grayish color, while the outer part is white (in the case of FFP2) or light blue (in the case of surgical), since all removed masks have this characteristic.

My Masks are among those affected, What can I do?

First of all, stay calm. It is unlikely that the masks contain graphene in such a high quantity that they caused us health problems (1 gram of this material has a market value of about 100 euros, and our mask of 3 grams cost us a few cents).

Anyway, and although the Aemps has not yet completed its analysis, it is recommended to stop using these products and replace them with others that are free of graphene until it is clarified whether their use is safe or not.