The FDA Just Issued a Warning Against This Kind of Face Mask
Experts are trying to stop this major mask mistake from occurring.
Americans have been wearing face masks for much of 2020, but that doesn't mean they're not continuing to make some major mistakes. For instance, you still see people wearing masks under their noses or donning face coverings that aren't actually protective. Now, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is fighting to stop another dangerous mask mistake: The FDA is warning people against using face masks with metal parts during MRI exams. Read on to find out why these masks could pose serious risks, and for more ways your mask may not protect you, If Your Mask Doesn't Have Three of These, It's Not Really Working.
The FDA issued a safety warning on Dec. 7 to alert health care workers and patients of the potential injury risk that comes with wearing face masks with metal parts or coating during MRIs.
"Metal parts, like nose pieces sometimes called nose clips or wires, nanoparticles (ultrafine particles), or antimicrobial coating that may contain metal (such as silver or copper), may become hot and burn the patient during an MRI," the warning reads. "The FDA recommends patients wear face masks with no metal during MRIs."
According to the FDA, they issued the warning after receiving a report that a patient's face had been burned from the metal in a face mask worn during an MRI neck scan. They also noted that it may be hard to determine whether or not your mask has metal in it, as anything from bendable nose pieces to hidden staples on the headband could be a risk factor.
"You may not be able to tell whether your mask may have metal in it. Ask the person performing the MRI to confirm that the face mask you will wear does not contain metal parts," they state in the warning.
For health care workers, the FDA says they must ensure that a patient's face mask contains no metal. If they cannot confirm the "absence of metal" with a patient's mask and a mask is necessary, then health care providers are "encouraged to provide face masks without metal to patients who will undergo an MRI."
If you have been burned by your face mask during an MRI, the FDA asks that you report it to them. Meanwhile, if you need a refresher on the other face coverings you should avoid, keep reading, and for more on masks, This Mask Feature Doesn't Do What You Think It Does, Experts Warn.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently updated its face mask recommendations on Dec. 1, calling out this covering. According to the organization, the use of face shields is inferior to face masks because shields will not block the wearer's exhaled droplets and cannot stop them from inhaling droplets either. And for more ways to protect yourself, This One Thing Is Better at Protecting You From COVID Than Your Mask.
Masks without three layers
More and more evidence is pointing to the idea that you need at least three layers of fabric on a face mask for it to fully protect you. The most recent study was conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech University who tested 11 different types of face masks, including nine cloth masks made from materials such as coffee filters, a cotton T-shirt, and other fabrics, as well as a face shield and surgical mask, Yahoo! News reports. In their findings, masks that had three layers were most protective. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Face masks with valves
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently found that face masks with ventilation valves actually help spread the coronavirus. They concluded that while regular N95 masks completely stop the passage of droplets, N95 masks outfitted with a ventilator valve do almost nothing to stop the spread. And for more things aiding transmission, Dr. Fauci Says This One Thing Could Spread COVID More Than Anything Yet.
Unwashed face masks
Your face masks may fit the criteria for protection, but if it's not clean, it's not helping. A meta-analysis published Sept. 28 in BMJ Open found that not washing cloth masks after use increases the risk of coronavirus contamination. So while it may be tempting to wear the same mask for days in a row, you should wash it after every use for it to actually work. And for help washing your masks, discover 5 Ways You're Cleaning Your Face Mask Wrong.