[Article updated December 17 at 08:00]
France’s main health advice agency is recommending definitively that people avoid using FFP2 face masks containing graphene over concerns about this substance.
The Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire (Anses) agency says there is a “lack of information on the graphene used by manufacturers and the toxicity of this substance, particularly in the long term.”
Available data “does not foreground any worrying situations concerning exposure” to the graphene content, but Anses states that it is “impossible to evaluate the health risk” and therefore sensible to withdraw the masks as a precaution.
The sale of such FFP2 masks had already been temporarily suspended in France in May.
These masks contain nanographene, which is made up of nanoscopic flakes of carbon. These tiny particles have antiviral properties, which is why they have been used during the Covid pandemic, but there are concerns that they could potentially cause lung problems.
However, the lack of available data means that this has not been confirmed.
“Anses recommends that public authorities favour the sale or distribution of masks without graphene,” the agency said in a statement.
The potential risks associated with masks containing graphene were first highlighted in April by authorities in Canada, who withdrew those made by the Chinese company Shandong Shengquan New Materials from circulation.
However, Canada had eventually reauthorised the use of these masks in July, having decided that there were no proven risks.
Anses has also stated that studies on the surgical masks which are in general use in France have provided “reassuring results.”
“Exposure to the chemical substances found in these masks does not exceed healthy limits,” Anses said, adding that this “guarantees the absence of public health risks when these substances are inhaled or in contact with the skin.”