A major breakthrough has just come about amidst the coronavirus pandemic as a patent-pending system that is worn under face masks to sanitize the air and neutralize live viruses like COVID-19 may soon be available.
Fox News reported that the “Antimicrobial Irradiation Respirator,” aka the AIR device, has been touted as having the ability to protect against 5 percent of particulate that manages to get past N95 masks.
“Consumers need better assurance to be confident that they will not be exposed [to COVID-19],” explained Justin Hartenstein, Oracle Lighting director of product development. “The AIR device will neutralize that remaining five percent while sanitizing the contaminated mask at the same time. Studies have shown that respiratory pathogens on the outer surface of cloth masks can actually result in self-contamination, which is exactly what they are intended to prevent. Because of this, we see the unique UV irritation benefits of the AIR device as the best sanitization scenario for mitigating exposure to COVID-19 and other viruses.”
Oracle Lighting has stated that existing personal air filtration masks are made to stop the inhalation of viruses by trapping the particles from the incoming air in the cloth material worn on the face. However, they are not able to disinfect any particles, which means that live viruses can become attached to the fabric surfaces.
Though the CDC has advised the public to wash their face masks in the laundry machine, Oracle Lighting claims that “most consumer-grade laundry detergent does not contain disinfectant and, in fact, studies show that pathogens can actually be spread in the wash and contaminate other laundry in the load.”
“The AIR device is composed of a small cover made of an anti-microbial polymer which is worn on the face and attached with straps similar to a traditional face mask,” Hartenstein said. “The user wears a traditional face mask (cloth mask, surgical mask, N95, etc.) over the device. A small rechargeable battery pack powers the device and can be manually turned on and off by the user. In addition to the anti-germicidal LEDs, the device also contains UV-A LEDs which provide a wider light spectrum and visible light. The visible UV-A LED functions as an indicator that the device is on and working but provides minimal anti-microbial benefits.”
Oracle Lighting said in a statement that wavelengths between 200 to 300 nanometers provide the most effective germicidal function, with the wavelength of UV-C irradiation using photons to inactivate the virus, preventing the cell from replicating and infecting the body if inhaled.
“UV-C light has been used in many applications such as the purification of drinking water for decades,” Hartenstein said. “While UV-C is part of the normal spectrum of sunlight, it is invisible and can cause sunburn with direct skin exposure. This was taken into account when developing the AIR and so the UV light is directed into the mask, away from the user, to prevent any direct skin exposure.”
Oracle Lighting has predicted that the device will be available to the public sometime next month.
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