Agency issues advisory warning Canadians not to use masks containing graphene over potential health concerns.
THUNDER BAY – Health Canada has issued an advisory warning Canadians not to use face masks containing graphene, citing potential health risks.
The agency has directed distributors, importers, and manufacturers to stop selling the products pending a “thorough scientific assessment.”
The move could have implications for one local company that manufactures a graphene-based coating for masks and other products.
Individuals are advised to immediately stop using masks labelled to contain graphene or biomass graphene, consult a health provider if they have used the masks and experienced any concerns such as shortness of breath, and report any adverse events to Health Canada.
The potential health risks associated with the masks remain uncertain, the agency noted in its advisory.
“Health Canada’s preliminary assessment of available research identified that inhaled graphene particles had some potential to cause early lung toxicity in animals,” it said. “However, the potential for people to inhale graphene particles from face masks and the related health risks are not yet known, and may vary based on mask design.”
Health Canada has requested data from manufacturers to assess potential health risks, it said.
One company headquartered in Thunder Bay, ZEN Graphene Solutions, has supplied graphene-based coating for masks and filters made by Collingwood-based Trebor Rx.
The surgical masks had passed Health Canada testing requirements as a Class II medical device, ZEN announced on March 3.
Tbnewswatch has reached out to the company and Health Canada for comment.
Health Canada issued its advisory after becoming aware that masks containing graphene had been sold “with COVID-19 claims” and used by adults and children in schools and daycares, it said. They may also have been distributed in health care settings.
Trebor Rx CEO George Irwin suggested the company’s graphene-coated masks would help protect against COVID-19 in the March 3 statement from ZEN.
“The additional layer of protection from ZEN’s biocidal coating against COVID-19 and various other bacterial and fungal pathogens, including the common cold virus, is the disrupter we need to get ahead of this and the other mutations of the SARS–CoV-2 virus,” he said.
However, the statement included a disclaimer that the company was “not making any express or implied claims that its product can eliminate, cure, or contain the COVID-19 virus.”
Any face masks containing graphene will remain off the market until Health Canada has completed a more thorough assessment, it said.