“First, you need to be aware of the distinction between a facemask and a respirator. According to norms and standards, a facemask is defined as a product that protects the surroundings from the wearer.
That means that it captures the germs which are exiting the wearer so that they do not spread in a room or the surrounding space in general. This is for example why a doctor wears a facemask – he is protecting his patient against his potential germs. This is why facemask construction is not a perfect fit for the face and its filter is very weak, it just protects from droplets going out of the wearer’s mouth.
“Then you have the respirators, which are described as a labour protective product. These are suited for capturing solid particles from the air. They have nothing in common with filtrating pathogens. The presence of nanofibers makes the face mask capable of protecting the wearer from his surroundings & vice versa. Naturally however, the facemask also needs to have a slightly different shape in order to be effective. When this is done, respirators, in combination with the nano fibers have the ability to also stop viruses in a very efficient way,” explains Respilon CEO Roman Zima, who has developed a respirator that could effectively kill the nCoV that is claiming lives across China and the world.
Respilon is working with its Israeli partner, who has the patent to make the copper dioxide nanoparticles that are present in the fibres. “It is from these particles that we make the nonwoven material. Our project is based on combining the textile together with the copper dioxide particles and with nanofibers. The copper dioxide layer in the mask should kill the virus immediately when the two come into contact – this is the first barrier of the mask.”
“The second, nanofiber barrier protects from the virus penetrating mechanically even if it is eliminated. This also includes other solid particles or pathogens. “That means that we have a sort of two-fold protective barrier, which offers almost 100 percent protection,” explains Zima. Respilon reached the final agreement with its Israeli partner a week ago, and will now work hard to start production in 14 days. “However, the masks will only become available for purchase in six to eight weeks, not sooner unfortunately.”
The company is looking not just at the Czech market or the European market. “This is an international cooperation and we certainly do not want to limit the market. We hope to work with all distributors that want to put it on the market, so that all potential users and consumers have the chance to use this mask.
Therefore, our ability to put this product on the market and the right channels is actually the most crucial part. We have to find the most reliable partners who have the ability of flexible supply, especially in this case of a potential pandemic.” The masks will be available online too, in the price range of US$ 2-5 a piece.
Are these disposable or reusable masks?
“At the moment you have two types of filtration. The first concerns solid particles and this is where the mask can be reused in certain cases. However, if you want to be protected from pathogens, it is definitely important to approach this as a one use only disposable product. This is because the moment you take the mask off, for example placing it on your neck, you do not have control over how this mask could be contaminated.
This can be risky when you subsequently put it back on your face and breathe. It is for this reason that the mask should be regarded as disposable.”