A lot has changed during the last 10 months since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The use of face masks is now part of our daily routines, but the sight looks strange even after 10 months of wearing masks in public. Most of us are familiar with both reusable and disposable face masks by now, with N95 masks being one of the most talked-about face masks.
Since the beginning of the year, N95 respirators have been one of the main topics of discussion, known to be the best face mask when it comes to virus protection. But, they’re also very scarce around the world, and the United States has already experienced devastating shortages that affect healthcare workers the most.
Most of the research being done this year has been focused on the making of a reusable version of the N95 mask. While many engineering breakthroughs have been made, today we would like to talk about a particular prototype in development: a transparent N95 respirator.
The first clear and self-adhering N95 mask: the SEEUS 95
The name of this new type of face mask was given to it by its inventor due to the mask’s main feature: it’s completely transparent. It contains a natural filter made with environmentally safe natural materials, including silk, bamboo, silver, and carbon. These are much better for the environment but also have the potential to offer more protection than regular N95 masks.
The creators of this mask claim it can offer better virus protection than the regular N95 respirators, which are usually made with a plastic called polypropylene. The bamboo is said to be stronger than steel and to have antiviral properties. This is because they absorb the moisture that carries the viral particles through the air. Silk also offers strength, as well as electrostatic charges that enhance the filtration properties. Nanosilver, known as AgNPs, effectively kills both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, and active carbon is widely used as an air and water purifier.
The inspiration behind the idea of making this mask completely clear was that, for months, people have been covering their faces, losing social connection that can be more intense in kids and deaf people. The creators believe that the first connection we make with other people is through our faces, which is why they set up to develop a transparent N95 respirator.
The third innovative feature this mask offers is the fact that you don’t need ear-loops or head-bands, as it adheres to your face. Now, it may sound uncomfortable or even painful, and a lot of people would be concerned that this mask could be harmful to your skin. However, it contains a natural biopolymer called chitosan, used in burn victims and certain cosmetic procedures, which make the self-adhering property completely safe. The lack of ear-loops and head-bands would make this mask more comfortable, as these can sometimes get annoying after a long work shift.
Another concern for this mask, as it’s transparent, is that there would be a lot of condensation and moisture build-up when temperatures rise in the environment, making users uncomfortable if they get foggy. The mask was also developed with an anti-fog coating on the inside, preventing this situation from happening. The creators also recommend to wipe the inside of the mask with alcohol, as this can also prevent fogging.
Although this mask is still in development, we believe it has great potential to become a very popular and useful item, especially for those who have been feeling disconnected from people due to the social distancing measures.
To read more about this mask, they have a website in which a section for frequently asked questions (FAQ) offers answers to some of the most expected questions about this mask model.
What constitutes an N95 mask?
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), N95 masks are a type of respirator with no resistance to oil, indicated with the letter N, and a minimum particulate filtration efficacy of 95%. This means they can filter out a minimum of 95% of the non-oil based airborne particles in the air.
For this reason, N95 masks have many different uses in a wide range of industries. For example, they can be used in the mining and construction industries because they can filter out dust and smoke. But, they’ve been popular in the healthcare industry since the pandemic began due to their antiviral properties, deemed the best mask for virus protection, even more so than surgical masks
Since the beginning of the pandemic, people began to buy a lot of medical supplies in bulk and wholesale, including face shields, KN95 masks, surgical masks, and N95 respirators. But, these items are very difficult to find for sale online at the moment, and health care centers are experiencing shortages that leave them unprotected at work.
Even popular models like the 3M 8511, 3M 1860, and 3M 8210, all 3M N95 masks, have been difficult to obtain. For this reason, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have urged the general public to reserve these masks for healthcare centers and to use cloth masks instead.
N95 masks are disposable face masks, usually made with a raw material called “melt-blown material” or “non-woven fabric”, made with polypropylene. The scarcity of this raw material has prevented big manufacturers from producing enough masks to supply the healthcare sector. And, the fact that these masks are disposable doesn’t help, since the filters contain electrostatic charges that get lost with continued use.
The development of a reusable N95 mask is in the works by many people, but this transparent model aims to tackle multiple problems at once, and we believe it has the potential to become one of the most popular models.