RETRACTION – August 31, 2023: The Western Journal has retracted this article because the source piece produced by The UK Daily Mail failed to include numerous details from the original study. Those details paint a more complex picture of the nature of the chemical rates observed, recommended exposure levels, toxicity rates, and their relationship to human health. The Western Journal apologizes for publishing this piece, which failed to meet our standards. As reports emerge of returning mask mandates and fears of the spread of a new strain of COVID-19, a study on masks notes that some can actually have hidden dangers. Although the national COVID-19 emergency has ended, colleges such as Rutgers in New Jersey and Morris Brown College in Atlanta are imposing mask requirements for their campuses. Upstate Hospital in Syracuse, New York, has also joined the trend, according to the U.K. Daily Mail. Further, the BA.2.86 variant has sparked concern because it appears able to evade existing immunity to the coronavirus, according to The Washington Post. A CNN report suggested wearing masks again. “If you’re a caregiver for somebody who is at increased risk of complication following infection, then I think you should also consider putting a mask on in public places,” Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a cardiologist and a professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences. But a study that was released in April in the journal Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety and through the National Institutes of Health said not all masks are equal, and that some can be downright dangerous, releasing chemicals linked to seizures and cancer. “An increase in the concentration of environmental particulate matter and the spread of the COVID-19 virus have dramatically increased our time spent wearing masks. If harmful chemicals are released from these masks, there may be harmful effects on human health,” the study said. The study noted that South Korean-made KF94 masks showed toxic chemical levels “at concentrations 22.9–147 times higher than those found in masks made from other materials, such as cotton and other functional fabrics.” The study reported that volatile organic compounds released by the KF94 masks were “about 14 times more than that released by the cotton masks” and that in some cases, the level of toxic chemicals released posed “a risk to human health.” The study noted that in warmer weather, the amount of toxic chemicals released increased. “It is clear that particular attention must be paid to the VOCs associated with the use of KF94 masks their effects on human health,” the study wrote. The U.K. Daily Mail reported that the Environmental Protection Agency called for keeping total volatile organic compound levels below 0.5 parts per million indoors. It reported that the worst mask sampled in the study had about 4.8 parts per million — more than nine times EPA’s limit. Dr. Stuart Fischer, of New York said the study was not conclusive, but said, “there seems to be diminishing returns on the need for masks.” “’I think following the general recommendations might be helpful, but it’s not clear yet if we need the sweeping edicts of three years ago. Extreme fears about the lethality of COVID may have led to decisions that were counterproductive,” he said. “COVID won’t be going away for a long time, if ever. We desperately need policies that do not fracture our society while providing minimal protection,” he said. Research carried out by the Cochrane Institute, based on 78 studies, concluded masks made “little to no difference” in infections and deaths due to COVID-19, according to the Daily Mail. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.