Want to Wear Masks at Soccer Games Still? Avoid Graphene Ones

May 5, 2021

If you have been following the news recently, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about graphene. It’s one of the thinnest yet strongest materials, of almost mythical proportions. It’s used almost everywhere too - in solar panels, DNA sequences, and even as a replacement for Kevlar in bulletproof vests. 

Graphene has also been used in masks, including ones people have been using to protect themselves from COVID-19. However, the masks containing this material can come with health risks. With that said, if you plan to still wear a mask at soccer games in the foreseeable future, you should avoid graphene masks. 

A 101 on Graphene & Graphene Masks  

Graphene is remarkable because it can be as small as one-atom-thick, and consists of a single layer of atoms. The atoms form a two-dimensional honeycomb pattern, that’s 100 times stronger than steel. Graphene is also highly conductive, making it a go-to material for chemical and mechanical purposes.

Manufacturers of sportswear often use graphene as well because it’s lightweight, flexible, and resilient. Mask manufacturers use graphene for these same reasons - it’s lightweight and breathable. Unfortunately, that’s where the benefits end.

COVID-19 masks that contain graphene masks have been recalled due to some health concerns and risks. 

In April 2021, Health Canada issued a recall for graphene masks due to the risks of lung toxicity. In fact, research has linked the inhalation of graphene particles to lung and respiratory damage lung granuloma formations. Ironically, the symptoms of lung toxicity resemble those associated with COVID, including: 

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry cough

Graphene masks may still be on the shelves or in stock online, so it’s best to avoid them. Make sure to check package labeling to see if graphene or biomass graphene is listed. Discontinue use if you see these materials listed. 

What Mask to Wear Instead of Graphene Ones? 

For a good number of you, the thought of going completely mask-less seems premature, even in the face of lifted restrictions. But finding the right mask at this point might seem somewhat confusing. With that said, you can still find breathable and lightweight masks that don’t contain graphene. 

Cotton Mask Blends

Double-knit cotton masks are a great alternative to other masks that may contain graphene. They’re effective at filtering aerosolized droplets that may contain COVID particles. But they’re also breathable and lightweight. Most importantly, they’re free of particles that can harm your lungs. You can also try other cotton masks such as those that combine with polypropylene. 

Use Mask Inserts 

If you’re worried about getting lightheaded, there’s a simple way to an existing mask more breathable - add an insert. An insert alters the shape of a mask, resulting in an increase in comfort and maximized airflow. They also prevent glasses from fogging up since they direct the airflow away from your face.  

Stay Safe at Soccer Games 

Aside from wearing masks, don’t forget some other essentials to protect yourself from the circulation of COVID. Hand washing should be a top priority. The new Omicron subvariant, BA.2, appears to last even longer on surfaces than previous strains, making hand washing even more important. Remember the rule: use soap and wash your hands for 20 seconds in warm water. In addition to hand washing, maintain a relatively safe distance from others and get vaccinated where needed. 

For players, the same rules apply. Of course, mask-wearing is impractical on the field and body contact is inevitable. However, players can still wear masks in or around locker rooms, and maintain some distance from each other off the pitch. Also, hand washing and washing soccer gear and equipment immediately after games are essential. 

And the best rule of them all for players and spectators alike is to stay home if feeling sick! It’s the best way to keep the spread of COVID low and we all have that responsibility. 

For more tips about soccer training and life on the pitch, be sure to check our Storelli blog

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