News Coronavirus Australian-designed NASA-grade face masks promise max COVID protection

Australian-designed NASA-grade face masks promise max COVID protection

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Until we get a vaccine, face masks remain our best protection against the coronavirus.

And let’s face it: They can be a nuisance.

They fog up our glasses, make it harder to breathe while exercising, and the single-use ones clog up landfill.

But there’s about to be a new kid on the block that aims to fix these problems – ActiveMask.

Founded by Melbourne friends and business partners Adam Critchlow and Mehdi Qerim, they say their ActiveMask face masks are all about maximum protection and comfort.

Each one has a soft, medical-grade silicone strip that forms a gentle seal on your face, as well as adjustable straps to get the fit just right.

The mask’s multi-layer filter includes one layer of activated carbon, initially designed for use by the British Army for chemical and biological protection.

Protection for frontline health workers is a cause close to home for Mr Critchlow, whose elderly father died from COVID-19 in April.

A face mask with a shield designed for Australian healthcare workers. Photo: ActiveMask

“Healthcare is one aspect, but it can also be used for police, fire crews or the army,” he told The New Daily, adding the masks could be branded to suit a range of workplaces.

“If you go into Woolworths or Coles, all of these workforces need something that is comfortable but also part of their uniform.”

A mock-up of an ActiveMask mask designed for police uniform. Photo: ActiveMask

A second filter is made up of a breathable, woollen P2/N95 filter material originally designed for American space agency NASA.

“(NASA) wanted a natural fibre that could be used in international space stations in case there was an issue and astronauts needed to be able to breathe,” Mr Critchlow said.

That’s right – a face mask fit for an astronaut.

And unlike most face masks used by health workers and the general public, these ones don’t cause foggy glasses, he added.

That’s because the air enters the mask through two valves on the side, and leaves through an exhale filter in front of the mouth.

“Because this one is very breathable, you can talk through it quite easily,” Mr Critchlow said.

The components of an ActiveMask face mask. Photo: ActiveMask

ActiveMask masks will be designed and manufactured in Victoria, most likely in Ballarat.

“We want to bring manufacturing back to Victoria,” he said.

“Before COVID, there was over $3 billion of masks sold per year in Asia because of pollution, and then there are the bushfires in California, so there is a large global market for a good product.”

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