A New Type Of N95 Face Mask Helps Destroy Virus Particles
As the world waits for the vaccine's distribution to be widespread, one of the newest advances in fighting COVID-19 comes from an area we might not have been expecting innovation from — the face mask. Below, we'll cover an exciting new development in respiratory masks as well as where to purchase two budget-friendly alternatives while supplies are available again.
A Respiratory Face Mask With Patented Antiviral Technology
So far, much of the conversation about face masks has revolved around breathability and which types are most effective against the spread of the virus. But one thing most of us didn’t consider was a mask that could not only block harmful virus particles — but also go a step further and destroy them.
Enter Respokare. Or, more formally, the Respokare NIOSH N95.
Created by Chinese biotech firm Innonix Technologies, the Respokare uses patented technology to trap and then destroy harmful virus and bacteria particles. This multi-layer respiratory mask achieves this using a combination of two different methods — each relying on a different layer.
First, the outside layer of the mask features a special permeable membrane that actively absorbs virus particles instead of leaving them on the surface where they can still be transmitted by contact (such as when taking the mask on or off).
Second, the absorbed particles go deeper into the mask and meet a patented anti-viral layer that uses a novel strategy of copper and zinc ions to deactivate the virus particles and make them harmless.
How effective is the Respokare? It's important to note that the mask's performance against COVID-19 hasn't been released yet, but when exposed to surrogate coronaviruses — like SARS and MERS — the Respokare achieved a 99.9% inactivation of viral particles within a single minute. And within five minutes, the mask was able to achieve a 99.9% inactivation against fifteen different strains of influenza. So as an added bonus, the FDA-cleared Respokare is a great mask to have as we head into flu season.
Recently touted as effective, comfortable, and breathable by Men's Health, you can currently purchase the Respokare here at the site of its North American distributor, N95 Mask Co, while supplies last.
The Most Popular Front-Line Respiratory Mask — The Standard N95
In addition to its antiviral abilities, the Respokare is also a NIOSH-certified N95 Respirator Mask. NIOSH (The National Institute for Occupational Safety And Health) is a division of the CDC and responsible for the approval of respirator protective equipment. Even without Respokare's advanced technology though, a standard N95 is still one of the most effective masks in combatting the spread of respiratory particles.
The N95 has become the standard in hospital respiratory masks because, as its moniker denotes, it blocks 95% of particles under 0.3 microns in size (for comparison, a human hair is about 50 microns in circumference). This means the N95 is one of the few PPE options that can block aerosolized particles and not just the larger-sized respiratory droplets. Not surprisingly, the N95 is the choice of many front-line workers.
While standard N95s can't offer the antiviral protection of Respokare, they're appropriate for less risky environments and can help meet budgetary limitations. These NIOSH-certified N95 masks from N95 Mask Co are comparable to the protection of the industry-standard models manufactured by 3M but are substantially more affordable.
N95 masks have been in short supply during the pandemic, so you might want to take advantage of this current moment when supply has caught up to meet demand for the time being. Order yours fast here.
A Budget-Friendly Alternative — The KN95
Last but not least, the KN95 is another strong option if the other options are too far out of budget. While it doesn't offer quite the same level of materials and protection, KN95s are still far more effective at reducing the transmission of fine respiratory particles than most alternatives such as cloth masks.
The difference between N95 and KN95 masks is primarily where they're certified, with KN95 masks being certified in China or elsewhere outside the US. There was a lot of confusion over this in the beginning of the pandemic, with less quality KN95 masks earning negative reviews as well as warnings from the FDA.
The FDA has since added an appendix of more reputable manufacturers that allows them to sell within the US. Supplies of dependable KN95 masks are available again for now, and you can buy them here.
Please be aware that even more breathable respiratory masks like the above tend to be more difficult to breathe through than surgical masks and some cloth masks, so please consult with your doctor if you have any underlying breathing conditions that might dictate the best mask choices for you. Beware though — not all masks are actually helpful.