Manufacturer issues statement after Tennessee halts distribution of face masks


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The manufacturer of millions of masks distributed by the state of Tennessee has issued a statement after the state halted distribution of the masks after they were found to be treated with a chemical.

North-Carolina based Renfro Corporation was awarded an $8.2 million, no-bid contract to make 5 million masks to be distributed to county health departments. The company has a manufacturing and distribution facility in Cleveland, Tennessee. On Tuesday, the state announced they have stopped distribution of the face masks.

“We are no longer distributing the face coverings until more information is learned about the antimicrobial that is used on the mask and have asked our partners to do the same,” a Knox County Health Department spokesperson announced during a press briefing on Monday.

First reported by Nashville’s NewsChannel 5 on May 29, the masks were found to be treated with a registered pesticide, Silvadur.

Renfro Corp. released a statement contending the NewsChannel 5 linked to the wrong registered pesticide in Environmental Protection Agency records and that the substance they use to treat the masks is harmless.

The statement:

A May 29 news report by WTVF-TV in Nashville misidentified a component used by Renfro Corporation in the manufacture of face masks for public use in Tennessee. As a result, the story leads to numerous inaccuracies that have since been repeated by other media. Renfro Corporation issues this statement to provide accurate information on the manufacture of its face masks for the use of the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Renfro Corporation face masks utilize DuPont’s SILVADUR™ 930 FLEX Antimicrobial (EPA Reg. No. 464-785). The news article erroneously provided links to a different EPA Registration for SILVADUR TM (EPA Reg. No. 707-313). This inaccuracy has resulted in considerable misinformation being spread to the public.

The face masks manufactured by Renfro and provided to Tennessee communities are harmless to human health and are serving the specific purpose outlined by U.S. and State of Tennessee health officials.

Similar to face masks manufactured by many other companies, our face masks are manufactured with DuPont’s SILVADUR™ 930 FLEX Antimicrobial. The EPA Registration for SILVADUR™ 930 FLEX Antimicrobial does not include any warnings regarding inhalation, skin contact risks, or irreversible eye damage that were cited in the news reports.

DuPont’s SILVADUR™ 930 FLEX Antimicrobial is widely used in textiles and garments, including those that come in close contact with the face and body, such as pillowcases, sheets, towels, jackets, athletic wear and nonmedical face masks. In fact, the independent International Oeko-Tex Association conducted a thorough evaluation of the technology, and confirmed SILVADUR™ 930 FLEX Antimicrobial has been demonstrated to be harmless to human health when used as intended.

Our effort to manufacture face masks for community-based use provides the public with a low-cost option to follow United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance that individuals wear cloth face coverings as source control, which may help reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 from both symptomatic and asymptomatic people. Our other focus is to provide employers with masks for their employees for the same purpose.

Renfro Corporation is a U.S. company and our facilities and employees that manufactured these masks are based in Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina. We are proud that our Company stepped up during this pandemic to provide a much-needed product in the fight against COVID-19. We are an American company trying to help people stay healthy and reopen the country.

Renfro Corporation

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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