With the number of COVID-19 cases rising across the United States, including in children, wearing a mask is more important than ever. As some schools have asked that children start wearing higher level filtration masks (KN95 and KF94 masks), our Boston Children’s Hospital Celiac Disease Program and Celiac Kids Connection team has received several questions about the potential for these masks to be made using gluten. After extensive research in the scientific and mask production communities, as of January 2022, our team is unaware of any face masks being made using gluten.
We are aware of a study that has been circulated in online support groups discussing the potential use of the gluten polymer to make face masks in the future. The research is examining gluten as a material that could be used for mask production that would result in more biodegradable and environmentally sustainable masks. As of January 2022, we are unaware of any masks being produced using this gluten polymer process.
Currently, most masks are made using plastic fibers that can take hundreds of years to disintegrate. As manufacturers look for more environmentally friendly ways to make masks, they are testing out many different types of materials including rice, coffee, corn starch, sugar cane, and cassava, to name a few. As these processes develop, our Celiac Program will continue to provide updates on any materials that could potentially cause a gluten exposure for individuals with celiac disease.
A few reminders for proper mask usage:
- Use a mask that completely covers your nose and mouth
- Masks should fit snugly against the sides of your face and not have gaps. This will also help prevent foggy glasses
- Select masks that have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask
- Always use a fresh, clean mask
- Remind your child not to chew on or touch their mask throughout the day. If a mask becomes wet or moist it will not function as well
As always, if you have additional questions, you can reach our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boston Children’s Hospital
Celiac Disease Program