Editors Note / 11 Oct 2020: It has come to our attention that manufacture and delivery of the Leaf Healthcare Mask (Redcliffe Medical Devices) has been thrown into doubt, despite large amounts of capital raised through crowdfunding. We advise potential investors to proceed with caution and will post a full article investigating allegations against Redcliffe. We have invited comment from the company.
It’s what every trendy doctor is wearing if the press hype is to be believed. Masks are no longer simply an integral part of a doctor or nurse theater apparel, they’re now defacto garb for every medical professional engaged in the war against Covid-19. In fact, according to the science, they will save your life.
So how does the average ER clinician ensure they can look both stylish and comfortable, whilst remaining safe? Until recently, they haven’t been able to. Older masks weren’t designed for extended use, in an out of the theater, around the hospital, and then onto the golf course.
Masks, particularly N95 masks, were designed to eliminate airborne particles. Minute ones. That was it. Their design parameters didn’t incorporate comfort, extended use, or any of the things we now expect a mask to provide. Companies stepped up to the challenge and the last few weeks have seen a spate of new products released.
Here then is a list of these products, with links to their products and websites. Whilst Joe Public can purchase these, and many people no doubt will, these particular masks have been created specifically for the medical industry with a few key elements in mind, namely but not limited to;
- Visibility, without fogging or condensation. Masks are now clear, a move which will probably be emulated in the wider market as facial recognition software and phones struggle to see through conventional masks.
- Comfort, comfort, and more comfort. Wear something long enough and it chafes, rubs and generally annoys, particularly on areas of our skin that aren’t used to the pressure. Masks worn for extended periods need to be comfortable.
- Re-usable. If you’re paying over the odds for a product, you need to get your money’s worth out of it. No problem now, as most of the new designs feature interchangeable filters and some masks are even sold with their own disinfecting UV chambers to sterilize your mask.
So who has skin in the game, in terms of trying to corner this new market that has emerged overnight. Let’s look at some of the players. We’ll start with my favorite, for a number of reasons, Leaf Healthcare (Redcliffe Medical)
This company, in my humble opinion, is way ahead of the curve. If masks were cellphones, Leaf would be the Apple of masks. Their masks not only look the business, they also sport a whole lot of tech noticeably absent from their competitors. You actually WANT to wear this mask it looks so cool.
Add to that, recent FDA approval and you get an idea of just how far ahead of the curve Leaf is in terms of innovation.
According to one of their recent press releases;
At long last, a reliable option closest to the experience of not having a mask on is here. The lightweight, inventive gear, developed by Detroit-based Redcliffe Medical, is called the LEAF Mask. It’s the world’s first FDA-registered transparent mask with N99-quality air filtering and self-sterilizing qualities, and was built using aerospace technology with 100-percent recyclable optical-grade materials.
LEAF’s unibody mask is designed with clear medical-grade silicone, offering a universal fit and, finally, literal transparency in communicating, with the N99+ HEPA\HEPA-Carbon filters strategically placed around the chin to keep the bottom half of your face visible. It also means you will be able to unlock your smartphone without removing your face mask.
The masks are available in various configurations, The entry-level HEPA model features N99+ U15, HEPA Filtration. See-through design. N95 Filtered Exhausts, Biocompatible proprietary shape fit Silicone and starts at $49 or you can opt for the Pro shown below.
Masks, however, are not the only trick Leaf have up their designer sleeve. Say hello to the coolest looking UV disinfecting and sterilizing unit known to man. Its called the Leaf Dock and although it won’t charge your phone, it will definitely sterilize it in 14 seconds flat.
The Dock, with a massive sterilization volume of 50cm X 35cm X 30cm, doubles up as a sterilization station for everything from Leaf Mask itself to smartphones, laptops, purses, wallets etc. Leaf Dock retails from $299 and if you’re serious about offering your family the best protection money can buy, Leaf is in our opinion, the best choice.
Our second choice is UM Systems, a Colorado company founded in 2016 as one of Measure Inc.’s global brands. With its phenomenal debut on Kickstarter on June 25, UV Mask, an antiviral and anti-pollution UV-C face mask with the most advanced protection efficiency, continues its successful journey mounting its funding and crossing $2,500,000 in just 6 weeks.
According to their press release;
UV Mask is a next generation reusable face mask equipped with a double-protection system.
The first layer of protection is a high-efficiency CE-FFP2 disposable air-filter that purifies the air from 95% of particles as small as 0.3 microns (smoke, dust, pollen, etc.).
The second layer of protection is the groundbreaking patent-pending Sterile-Vortex, which inactivates all airborne pathogens and bacteria down to 0.1 microns using the ultra-high intensity UV-C light, providing total protection in real-time as you breathe.
Although the product promises very high efficacy, its comfort and visual appeal are questionable. Its early days and any claims made with regards to whose product is more effective would need to be viewed rather skeptically. What we do know for certain is that these new masks are a huge step up in terms of protection for a regular N95 mask.
How does it work?
The UV Mask uses UV-C light in real-time to filter the air as you breathe it in. According to the companies spec on Kickstarter;
We use two state-of-the-art 265nm pure UV-C LEDs in the Sterile-Vortex, which are ozone free, ultra-safe, and durable. As you breathe, the air is sent through the vortex and purified under two 25,000μW/cm² UV-C LEDs that are connected by a quartz chamber wall, making the total UV-C intensity 50,000μW/cm² throughout. Enjoy two high-efficiency layers of protection. Beyond purifying, our cool mask filters the air from dust, pollen, tobacco, bushfire smoke, and air pollutants
Although not as stylish or groundbreaking as Leaf, UV Mask offers real benefits and definite increases in levels of safety and air purity over existing masks. Click onto the Kickstarter link above to stay in the loop in terms of availability and pricing.
Is a gas mask. It is sold as one, looks like one, and performs like one.
Lost in translation? Perhaps. This mask looks like it would be more at home on the battlefield than a local ER. This is what the manufacturer has to say in terms of the mask’s performance in their most recent press release.
The standard filter is rated at KN95 for particular protection with provision to upgrade into the P100 level. It will filter out pollution particles, allergens, bacteria and viruses, and block out harmful droplets. It is available in crystal clear color, so people can see a person’s face, and facial recognition will work.
urME’s LFGB-approved silicone facepiece will seal off droplets, water splash and pollutants when it is put on. It is supple and shaped to fit people of all face profiles comfortably. The material is fully machine-washable in hot water; it takes just 20 seconds to disassemble for cleaning or swapping filters. It is like a gas mask but with only one-third of its weight and size.
Inside the mask is a pair of inhalation and exhalation valves, ensuring one-way airflow. This will maximize the useful life of the filter and keep the mask cool and dry, as excess humidity and heat are breathed out every time someone exhales. Ten KN95-certified filters are included with each mask, each lasting up to 50 hours. More filters are available as add-ons.
You can follow their progress on their IndieGoGo webpage where the technology the mask uses is discussed in detail and the purMe mask can be pre-ordered starting from $34 with 10 filters for an essential package (50% off MSRP) to a $78 special pack that includes two masks of the buyer’s choice and bags.