Airman 1st Class Bethany Dacus, 911th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, poses for a photo after conducting routine maintenance on a C-17 Globemaster III at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pa., March 1, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joshua J. Seybert)
The ubiquitous COVID-19 face masks are online, in stores and in pockets. Their use has been required by many government agencies and executive orders, private corporations and even, in confrontations that sometimes have turned violent, passersby on the street.
The “experts” have, at times, said they must be used, or shouldn’t be used. Or maybe three or four should be used.
Now a prominent physician is warning of the harm they can cause to individuals and the global community.
Dr. Joseph Mercola, a New York Times bestselling author, wrote in a column published by NOQ Report that they are a “ticking time bomb,” because of the multiple threats they pose.
Among the problems are the fact they can accelerated the process of microbes from the mouth entering the lungs, which has been linked to lung cancer.
Then there’s the fact they are made from microsized plastic fibers and can release particles into the environment.
And there’s their potential impact on “the mental and physical health of humans.”
And by and large they are not being recycled, and they’re being used at the rate of billions per month, or about 3 million masks per minute.
Are masks a “ticking time bomb” for the environment?
And plastics “make them likely to persist and accumulate in the environment.”
“The planet may be facing a new plastic crisis, similar to the one brought on by bottled water, but this time involving discarded face masks,” Mercola wrote. “‘Mass masking’ continues to be recommended by most public health groups during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite research showing masks do not significantly reduce the incidence of infection.”
The microfibers in the masks, discarded into the environment, “are being ingested by fish, plankton and other marine life, as well as the creatures on land that consume them (including humans),” he explained.
He said researchers from the University of Southern Denmark and Princeton University already have warned that masks could quickly become “the next plastic problem.”
The images of plastic trash bobbing in ocean water around the world already are well known. The masks could aggravate that, the report said, because their plastics resist breaking down in the environment, they have “microsized plastic fibers” and are released into the environment faster than other plastics. Mercola said “a report by OceansAsia further estimated that 1.56 billion face masks may have entered the world’s oceans in 2020, based on a global production estimate of 52 billion masks manufactured that year, and a loss rate of 3%, which is conservative.”
Masks, therefore, could add up to 6,240 metric tons of plastic pollution to the marine environment and take “as long as” 450 years to break down.”
The plastics contain chemicals such as polycyclic hydrocarbons, which can cause DNA damage. Dyes and other additives, some of which have reproductive toxicity, can cause cancer and mutations.
“When you wear a mask, tiny microfibers are released, which can cause health problems when inhaled. The risk is increased when masks are reused. This hazard was highlighted in a performance study to be published in the June 2021 issue of Journal of Hazardous Materials,” Mercola wrote.
It’s now known that microbes from the mouth, oral commensals, frequently enter the lungs.
“In a study of 83 adults with lung cancer, those with advanced-stage cancer had more oral commensals in their lungs than those with early-stage cancer. Those with an enrichment of oral commensals in their lungs also had decreased survival and worsened tumor progression,” he explained.
“While the study didn’t look into how mask usage could affect oral commensals in your lungs, they did note, ‘The lower airway microbiota, whether in health or disease state, are mostly affected by aspiration of oral secretions, and the lower airway microbial products are in constant interaction with the host immune system.’
“The National Institutes of Health even conducted a study that confirmed when you wear a mask most of the water vapor you would normally exhale remains in the mask, becomes condensed and is re-inhaled,” the report said. “They went so far as to suggest that wearing a moist mask and inhaling the humid air of your own breath was a good thing, because it would hydrate your respiratory tract. But given the finding that inhaling the microbes from your mouth may increase advanced cancer risk, this hardly sounds like a benefit.”
His concerns about the health impact of masks where echoed by Dr. Jane Orient of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.
“Some worry that mask components may be the new asbestos, inhaled all day long from a source right in front of your nose. Health Canada has issued a warning about blue and gray disposable face masks, which contain an asbestos-like substance associated with ‘early pulmonary toxicity,'” she wrote this week.
She said the masks, made in China, were part of Canada’s public school reopening plan.
“The masks contain microscopic graphene particles. Graphene is a strong, very thin material. Some daycare educators had expressed concerns when children complained that they felt they were swallowing cat hair,” she said.
“A similar disposable mask, known as MC9501, was likewise recalled throughout Canada after 31.1 million had been distributed by government.
“Nearly all face masks increase the daily intake of microplastic fibers. Scientists first discovered microplastics in the lung tissue of some patients who died of lung cancer in the 1990s. Plastic degrades slowly, so once in the lungs it tends to stay there and build up. Some studies have found that the immune system can attack these foreign objects, causing prolonged inflammation that can lead to diseases such as cancer. Reused masks produced more loosened fibers.”
Mercola noted that in Germany, a study using data on nearly 26,000 children identified 24 issues with wearing masks.
The researchers recorded symptoms that “included irritability (60%), headache (53%), difficulty concentrating (50%), less happiness (49%), reluctance to go to school/kindergarten (44%), malaise (42%), impaired learning (38%) and drowsiness or fatigue (37%).”
“They also found 29.7% reported feeling short of breath, 26.4% being dizzy and 17.9% were unwilling to move or play,” Mercola said. “Hundreds more experienced ‘accelerated respiration, tightness in chest, weakness and short-term impairment of consciousness.'”
Dr. Jim Meehan, an ophthalmologist and preventive medicine specialist, identified 17 “ways that masks can cause harm.”
They include adversely affecting respiratory physiology and function, raising carbon dioxide levels in the blood, trapping exhaled virus, lower oxygen levels, providing a false sense of security, compromising communications, making exhaled air go into the eyes, and collecting and colonize viruses, bacteria and mold.
“Adding insult to injury, the first randomized controlled trial of more than 6,000 individuals to assess the effectiveness of surgical face masks against SARS-CoV-2 infection found masks did not statistically significantly reduce the incidence of infection,” Mercola said.