Shelby County Health Department stops mask distribution due to chemical application

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — The Shelby County Health Department says it’s stopped distributing knitted face masks over concerns about a chemical that was being applied to it.

According to the health department, the masks were treated with a chemical called Silvadur, an anti-microbial agent that prevents the growth of odor-causing bacteria.

“Until more information is made available about Silvadur and its application to the masks, SCHD has stopped all distribution of the masks and is asking partnering agencies to also stop distributing them,” the agency said.

If you have one of the masks, you’re encouraged to stop using it and get a new one. You can also use a bandana or scarf if needed.

For instructions on how to make your own mask, click here.

Facial coverings are recommended when social distancing is difficult.

A spokesperson for the company that manufactures the face masks sent the following response after the health department’s decision.

These face masks are made in accordance with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for non-surgical masks. The face masks comply with the FDA EUA issued on April 24, 2020.

Similar to face masks manufactured by other companies and supplied by other states, the Renfro face masks utilize DuPont’s SILVADUR™ 930 FLEX Antimicrobial. SILVADUR™ 930 FLEX Antimicrobial is an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered antimicrobial widely used for inhibiting microbial growth in order to reduce odor on textiles and garments.

Silvadur™ 930 Flex Antimicrobial when applied to treated articles such as face coverings are at such low levels that the fabric poses negligible risk to consumers  

The independent International Oeko-Tex Association conducted a thorough evaluation of the technology, and confirmed  SILVADUR™ 930 FLEX Antimicrobial has been demonstrated to be harmless to human health  when used as intended

Silvadur™ 930 Flex Antimicrobial has been registered for more than ten years for use in textiles and garments, including those that come in close contact with the face and body, such as pillow cases, sheets, jackets, t-shirts, denim, towels, and athletic wear.

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