Tennessee Was Handing Out Free Masks Dipped in Pesticide

Hundreds of thousands were picked one up

Hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans have picked up free face masks provided by the state, never suspecting that those masks might carry their own health risk.

But an exclusive NewsChannel 5 investigation has discovered that those face masks – meant to slow the spread of COVID-19 – were treated with a controversial substance that is registered as a pesticide.

That substance is an antimicrobial designed to ward off odors.

“I wouldn’t wear one,” said Dr. Warren Porter, a professor of environmental toxicology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a board member for the environmental group Beyond Pesticides.

“Nobody wants to breathe in COVID, but I wouldn’t want to be breathing in something that I also knew could be poisoning my body in a relatively short period of time and might be having multi-year effects on my health.”

As part of Gov. Bill Lee’s push to re-open Tennessee’s economy, the state ordered five million nose-and-mouth coverings from the Renfro Corporation, a North Carolina-based sock maker.

Cost to taxpayers: $8.2 million.

“We wanted to get a free mask to Tennesseans who felt like they couldn’t afford a mask,” Lee told reporters in early May.

The governor’s team boasted that the sock masks, as they came to be known, are “washable, reusable, and treated with Silvadur, a non-toxic silver antimicrobial good for 25 industrial washes.”

But a search of the web reveals filings with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency where Silvadur is registered as a pesticide that is “harmful if inhaled” and “toxic to fish.”

(After this story was posted, a PR firm representing Renfro Corp. said Monday that the company uses Silvadur 930. That product, also registered as a pesticide, “causes moderate eye irritation” and is “toxic to fish.” It is listed as being approved for “non-food contact uses in industrial and household woven and non-woven fibers.”)

Silvadur is a DuPont product that uses silver technology that is supposed to keep fabrics fresh.


Under “how it works,” DuPont says Silvadur “delivers silver ions when organisms land or form on a treated fabric.”

These ions “continually release to safely kill microbes that cause odor.”

Late Friday, a spokesperson for DuPont chemical company issued a statement insisting that the pesticide is “used at such low levels that the use of the fabric poses no risk to consumers.”

But Professor Porter said, when positively charged silver ions are released on and in the human body, “these antimicrobial functions are also anti-cell functions.”

“While it’s true it affects the cell membranes of bacteria, that means it can also affect cell membranes of anything else in the body, including your nerves or anything else,” he explained.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates noted that DuPont says that Silvadur is “trusted and safe.”

Porter laughed.

“Well, I’m afraid the literature would not agree with that.”

In fact, a 2010 EPA study concluded, “There is evidence that silver, and in particular nanosilver, is toxic to aquatic and terrestrial organisms … and may be detrimental to human health.”

“You start messing around with DNA, which is the genetic material controlling your cell operations, you interfere with the messaging and bugger up the communication that goes on in cells, like I say, you’ve got a molecular bull in a china shop,” Porter said.

“There are all kinds of ways that it can disrupt cellular activity.”

The EPA report lists nanosilver in medical breathing masks as a “high” risk of exposure.

We asked Porter, “Is there something particularly vulnerable about having it over your nose and mouth?”

He answered, “That would definitely be more vulnerable because you’ve got all your respiratory surfaces and a lot of things that can get through those respiratory surfaces.”

NewsChannel 5 Investigates reached out to the Governor’s Office and Lee’s COVID-19 Unified Command for comment at 8:07 a.m., asking for a response by noon.

At 12:31 p.m., Unified Command spokesperson Dean Flener responded, “We’re working on it and should have to you soon.”

Later, asked for an update, Flener emailed at 1:38 p.m., “We are working on it.”

At 2:04 p.m., the spokesperson finally responded: “Thank you for your patience. Please direct your questions to Renfro.”

Emails sent to Renfro Corp. were not answered, and no one was available to answer the company’s main phone number. Efforts to submit an inquiry through the company’s online portal repeatedly resulted in error messages.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Professor Porter, “If you were advising the governor of the state of Tennessee, what would you advise him about these masks?”

“Well,” he responded, “I would advise him to try to get his money back.”

DuPont ignored NewsChannel 5’s inquiries for several days.

After the story aired, the chemical conglomerate provided the following statement:

“Safety and health are core values at DuPont. We are, and have always been committed to upholding the highest standards for the wellbeing of our employees, our customers and the communities in which we operate. As a science-based company, DuPont undertakes extensive product stewardship and risk assessment protocols to ensure the safe and appropriate use of its products and materials.

‘DuPont Silvadur is a safe and trusted technology used to control bacteria, mold and mildew that cause odors on fabric for more than a decade with no adverse health effects. The antimicrobial material applied to treated fabrics, such as face masks or coverings are at such low levels that the use of the fabric poses no risk to consumers.

“Silvadur has been approved by EPA to control bacteria, mold and mildew that cause odor on fabrics. Based on EPA regulations, Silvadur is registered with the agency and classified as a pesticide. The independent International Oeko-Tex Association conducted a thorough evaluation of the technology, and confirmed SILVADUR™ 930 FLEX Antimicrobial is recognized and listed as an Active Chemical Product, with biological activity, as a formulation that has been assessed to be harmless to human health, provided it is used as indicated and designated.

“DuPont Microbial Control products, including Silvadur, are not manufactured from nanotechnology nor are nanometer-sized particles intentionally added during any stage of the process. Any reference or reporting that our products are nano-based is false and misleading.”

All the major health authorities are in agreement that we all need to wear nose and mouth coverings when we’re going out in public around other people.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends basic cotton fabric.

If you don’t want to wear one of the sock masks, we’ve got instructions here about how you can make your own masks using materials you probably have around the house.

Source: Nashville Channel 5

  1. Michael Johnson says

    The want to rubbish an antibacterial that has been around for a century. Silver coins it has been said were put into the milk in the days of the frontier people to keep it fresh for longer.. So they say its poisonous to fish. They make nano this and nano that, but when there is somerthing they can’t make anything out of suddenly its dangerouis.

    1. Richard Hollembeak says

      Follow the money .

  2. Ilya says

    How is it that they paid $8.2m for 5 million masks, and my Tesco’s carries them at 10 for £5 (65c each? Surely they would get some kind of discount? Couldn’t they just nationalise the factory, pay the owners fair compensation, and make masks cheaper?!

  3. Eol Awki says

    I read the EPA report referred to in the article – chock full of “could be”, “might be”, “is said to be” – no definitive statements. And the amounts of silver it referred to were huge doses. Silver ions do NOT attack healthy cells, or healthy bacteria, or harmless viruses. Proper nanosilver does not turn your skin blue. This article is complete rubbish as is the so-called EPA report. I have been using colloidal silver for many years now – no problems at all. And I know of many, many who have had the same results.

    Tjhe regulatory agencies in the US and UK are heavily influenced by special interests and maintain a revolving door policy with the industries they regulate.

    Ignore this article.

  4. Arthur Patrick Danu says

    This story and the fake corona crisis needs a good song to go along with it.! I humbly submit my work for your enjoyment, encouragement, and edification!


    1. Eileen Kuch says

      Great song, Arthur Patrick Danu;D I used to hear it on the radio quite often when it came out in the ’80’s. You did great with this song;D Thank you for singing it.

      1. Arthur Patrick Danu says

        I appreciate your kind words about my performance. All the best to you!

  5. disqus_3BrONUAJno says

    Silvadur uses silver ions, which are inert in mammalian tissue.
    Silvadur is commercial colloidal silver, in effect.

    1. Raptar Driver says

      Yes in effect it is, the technical Definition of colloidal silver is that it has to be suspended in water.

      1. disqus_3BrONUAJno says

        Where does this “technical definition” come from?

        1. Raptar Driver says

          Every definition That I know of Says that it’s suspended in water. Maybe it doesn’t matter what it is suspended in like you say, I didn’t know it could be suspended in plastic?

      2. disqus_3BrONUAJno says

        And in this case, it is suspended in plastic, which would maintain a silver ion concentration more consistently without being wet. Silver is no more a pesticide than it is a humanicide.

        1. Raptar Driver says

          You seem to know more about it than me so I won’t argue with you

          1. disqus_3BrONUAJno says

            I’m not saying that the plastic encased silver is colloidal silver. I’m saying that it would function in the same way on fabric. Technically, colloidal silver is not colloidal because a colloid doesn’t really form in water. What is usually called colloidal silver is really ionic silver. All of that is academic because if silver is exposed to pathogens within a quarter inch or less, the effect on the pathogen will be the same.
            The next time you are in a restaurant where there is an icemaker atop the drink dispenser, look and see if you see AGION® on it. AGION® is a silver-impregnated coating placed on food storage containers to provide antimicrobial action, just as Silvadur does on fabric.

  6. Undecider says

    To be clear, is this anything to do with colloidal silver?

    1. Raptar Driver says

      I’ve been using collider silver for 12 years, it has been a life saver since I’m prone to pneumonia.
      I can say simply from my own experience that it is completely non toxic In the right doses. Of course even water is toxic in the wrong dose.

      1. disqus_3BrONUAJno says

        What is “collider silver?”

        1. Raptar Driver says

          It is nanoparticles of silver suspended in Water I believe by a charge.
          They are wrong that it destroys the membranes of all cells only single celled organisms.
          I Vouch for this product with my life, it saved me many times when nothing else did.

          You can actually make this at home It’s not a big industry.

          1. disqus_3BrONUAJno says

            It operates on the oligodynamic effect which shuts down the cellular respiration of pathogenic cells and denatures viruses. I used to use it a lot before I learned about the immune system and how to nourish it with vitamin D3. Once the immune system is up to snuff, it is easier and cheaper to prevent infections than to cure them.
            Any industry where the product is sold for hundreds of dollars per gallon and costs pennies a gallon to make is a big industry. The primary benefit of buying colloidal silver instead of making it is the avoidance of the poisonous silver compounds that are created when the water used contains halogens like chlorine and fluorine. Using truly pure distilled water solves the problem.

          2. disqus_3BrONUAJno says

            Are you talking about “colloidal” while you are typing “collider?”

    2. disqus_3BrONUAJno says

      Silvadur is colloidal silver.

      1. Raptar Driver says

        No technically it’s not.

        1. disqus_3BrONUAJno says

          Functionally it is: “SILVADUR™ antimicrobial technology is a polymer-containing silver-technology that delivers silver ions when organisms land or form on a treated fabric. These ions continually release to safely minimize microbes that cause odor and material degradation.” This would serve to sterilize the fabric without a continual application of colloidal silver.

  7. ke4ram says

    “You start messing around with DNA, which is the genetic material controlling your cell operations, you interfere with the messaging and bugger up the communication that goes on in cells, like I say, you’ve got a molecular bull in a china shop,”

    Isn’t that what the supposed corona vaccine supposed to do,,, Change DNA to fight off Corona,,, using a corona virus to deliver the package? And the difference is?

    All the major health authorities are in agreement that we all need to wear nose and mouth coverings when we’re going out in public around other people.

    Sure,,, show me one Randomized Control Test that shows ‘scientifically’ these masks stop viruses and germs. Show me that breathing in small particles of cotton and other cloth all day long for months and years is safe. And why do the packages containing these masks say they do not stop or control viruses, including the N95. I have a couple showing this disclaimer.

    I’m sick of this “agreement crap” which is nothing more than an opinion burger. They scream science,,, by God I want science! They wouldn’t know science if it kicked them in the ass.

  8. Mychal Arnold says

    Welcome to the land of the stupid ussar! Where freedom has died!

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