This New Self-Cleaning Face Mask Can Reportedly Destroy COVID-19 Particles
This "smart" mask uses several different kinds of technology to kill the coronavirus.
A mask doesn't have to be high-tech in order to slow the spread of coronavirus. Any face covering acts as a barrier that disrupts the path of respiratory droplets coming from your nose and mouth—but while some materials are better than others, the most important thing is that it's tightly woven (and worn properly). Of course, technology can add features that make face coverings more convenient, snazzy, and effective. One new mask that's on the market now even claims that it can kill coronavirus particles, which may put your mind at ease.
The LEAF mask by Redcliffe Healthcare was launched through an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign that has already blown past its initial goal of $30,000 by over $1 million. The product is described as the "world's first FDA-registered, clear, UV-C sterilizing smart mask." Redcliffe claims that the mask "implements the most stringent N99+ air quality standards" through its HEPA filter. Per the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), HEPA filters "can theoretically remove at least 99.97 percent of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and [other] airborne particles" above a certain size.
Among its other features, the LEAF UV and LEAF PRO masks purport to kill pathogens via "active" UV-C sterilization. There are UV-C LED lights embedded within the mask that flash every 30 seconds to kill virus and germs. (The lowest price model, the HEPA, is not self-sterilizing, but does—as the name suggests—include the HEPA filter.) This self-sterilization mechanism enables filters to last for up to a month—far outpacing paper filters, which should be thrown away after each use.
This high-tech product also has a coating to prevent the mask from fogging up. In all models, the inside of the mask is "self-cleaning"; in the UV and PRO models, the outside is treated with a hydrophobic (i.e. water-repelling) and antimicrobial coating. The company touts its clear design as a way to "be our normal selves, even in abnormal times," as it allows facial expressions to be seen and even works with the facial recognition software on your devices.
The masks are in production now and are expected to ship to backers later this summer. It should be noted that though LEAF is FDA-registered, it's not yet FDA-approved, so its claims have not yet been backed up by the agency. But if you're an early adopter of technology or are just tired of washing out your fabric masks, you may want to upgrade to a "smart" version. And for more on staying safe, This Popular Face Mask Isn't as Effective as You Thought, Study Finds.