Toxic Chemical Found in Disposable Face Masks: Researchers

Results from a recent study have revealed that disposal masks may be spreading harmful toxins into the environment.  Researchers found significant amounts of toxins (lead, copper, and antimony) coming out of several masks after exposure to water.


Since the pandemic, the demand for disposable plastic face masks (DPFs) has soared. In 2020, production facilities–mainly in China–produced over 52 billion masks – some up to 450 million per day. Researchers estimate these “single-use” items could take up to 450 years for face masks to degrade.


To ensure conclusive testing, a team of scientists analyzed seven different brands of disposable face masks. They soaked all the masks in water to model the actual environmental circumstances for those that end up as trash or litter. Results revealed traces of heavy metals like lead and other toxins such as carcinogenic chemicals in the water.



Choose reusable cloth masks–some are even made using organic cotton.



Journal Reference: G.L. Sullivan, J. Delgado-Gallardo, T.M. Watson, & S. Sarp, An investigation into the leaching of micro and nano particles and chemical pollutants from disposable face masks – linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, Water Research Journal, Volume 196, 15 May 2021, 117033.  Study; overview