Dear Dr. Tam,
We applaud the actions you have taken to date to protect Canadians from this global pandemic and that is why we felt the need to write this letter.
Our team at Levitt-Safety – like many people across the country – read the new three-ply mask guidelines posted to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website this week.
And the recommendation regarding polypropylene filters raised some alarm bells.
As a major supplier of safety and respiratory products to Canada, we support your organization’s decision to encourage the use of three-layer masks.
However, you must provide the right information so people are not misled into thinking they are adequately protected when they are not.
Bruce Levitt joined Ted Michaels to discuss his concerns about the PHAC guidelines on non-woven polypropylene. Listen now.
The misleading recommendation on Public Health’s website:
Public Health’s webpage Non-medical masks and face coverings states:
“Consider wearing a mask that includes a filter or filter material as one of its layers, such as:
- non-woven polypropylene fabric, which can be found as:
- a craft fabric
- the non-woven fabric that’s used to make some reusable shopping bags
- a disposable filter inserted into a pocket on the mask”
Polypropylene can be a good filter, but not the way you suggested:
When manufactured for the purpose, polypropylene is a good filtering material, however not all polypropylene is made for this job.
Medical masks and respirators are typically made using two very different types of polypropylene that serve different functions:
- The inner and outer layers are made from spunbond polypropylene – the same type of material used in some shopping bags, disposable clothing etc.
- The middle layer is made from specific grades of meltblown polypropylene – a completely different product and manufacturing process.
The inner and outer layer of mask material are not designed to filter aerosols, they provide droplet protection, prevent the mask filter from getting soiled and provide physical integrity to the overall mask.
The filtration is achieved primarily using the middle meltblown layer.
Reusable grocery bags are made using spunbound polypropylene, which is simply not effective as a filter for aerosols.
Do the right thing, always:
Effective immediately, despite our large inventory of the products, Levitt-Safety is suspending the promotion of two-ply masks based on your guidelines.
Our number one priority has always been to keep people safe at work and home. With rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, we have an obligation to ourselves and to you to do everything in our power to limit those numbers.
We are asking Public Health to do the right thing by correcting the misleading statement on your website and publicly addressing those changes to ensure Canadians receive the most accurate information so they can make the best choices for their personal safety.