In a letter sent to staff and parents of students at area schools, the New Frontiers School Board confirmed that procedural masks containing a potentially toxic material were indeed distributed to local schools and centres.
A preliminary risk assessment by Health Canada identified a potential for “early pulmonary toxicity” associated with the inhalation of nanoform graphene, used as a coating on certain face masks. The warning, which was sent to provincial and territorial health ministries on March 25, notes that “in the absence of manufacturer’s evidence to support the safe and effective use of nanoform graphene coated masks, Health Canada considers the risk of these medical devices to be unacceptable.”
The masks in question are the SNN200642 model made by Métallifer, a Québec based manufacturer, that are grey on one side, with grey strips on the top and bottom on the other side. Health Canada recommends that anyone with a supply of these masks in their possession stop using them right away.
The NFSB was first made aware of the Health Canada warning on Friday afternoon, and steps were taken immediately to stop the use of the masks in all of their buildings. “The masks come in by the pallet and we distribute them,” says NFSB Director General Rob Buttars, adding that there was no directive from the government to closely track the type of masks that were being distributed. The assumption was that if they were coming from the government, they were safe to be used by students, teachers and staff.
In a letter sent to all parents of students in NFSB schools on Saturday, Buttars guaranteed that when students return to class on Monday, the masks will have been removed from circulation.