The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) is working to identify if facemasks containing a product which poses potential health risks were placed on the Irish market.
It follows a decision by Health Canada to recall thousands of facemasks containing the material graphene after research indicated it may cause lung toxicity if inhaled.
Graphene is reported to have antiviral and antibacterial properties and has been used by some facemask manufacturers across the world.
Thousands of masks containing graphene were distributed to schools and healthcare settings in Canada and have now been recalled, with authorities warning people not to use surgical masks containing graphene until investigations are concluded.
International and environmental health organisations are sounding the alarm that masks now banned from the Canadian market over concerns of potential toxicity are also for sale on the European market.
The Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS) has also requested the voluntary removal of the marketing of the masks in Spain.
The HPRA, which monitors and reviews the safety and efficacy of drugs and medical products in Ireland, confirmed it is in the process of “identifying surgical/medical masks of this type which may have been placed on the Irish market as medical devices”.
“As part of our ongoing review of this issue, the HPRA has engaged with other international medical device regulators (including Health Canada) to obtain further information in relation to investigations conducted to date and to identify specific manufacturers impacted,” a spokesperson told Independent.ie.
A spokesperson for the Health Service Executive said: “The national personal protective equipment team had not purchased any surgical masks “that have been impregnated with graphene or any other products claiming antimicrobial /antiviral substances. All masks purchased comply with Guidance issued by the WHO & AMRIC.”
International organisations have written to the EU Commission urging it to take “urgent action”.
The Center for International Environmental Law said it had conducted a review of the European market and “determined that these potentially toxic masks, are for sale on the EU market”.
“To allow unassessed and potentially unsafe masks onto the market has serious health implications and may dangerously undermine public trust in mask-wearing,” a spokesperson said.
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