Respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is an essential piece of kit for many construction workers around the world; especially for those working with hazardous materials. But in these unprecedented times, many governments are enforcing the use of face masks for the general populace to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-19.
The standard go-to of the moment is the ubiquitous N95 mask that while cheap and widely available, is not perfect by any means. Thankfully some companies, like Amsterdam-based LMP, have developed a more comfortable, effective, and less wasteful alternative -- their S2 reusable face mask.
Let's take a closer look.
What is the LMP S2 reusable mask?
The LMP S2 reusable mask is an innovative silicone face-mask that is, as the name suggests, designed to be reused and not thrown away. It looks great and, according to the manufacturer, allows the wearer to breathe 99% clean air through it.
Designed by Mark Austen and his team, this mask has been developed and is being manufactured, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The company is currently seeking crowdfunding for their new mask and, at the time of writing, have managed to raise £580,065 ($714,770) on IndieGoGo.
The mask is made of silicon, offers a comfortable and practically airtight face fit, and comes with composite activated carbon and FFP3 (N99) filters. The former is suitable for filtering out PM 3.5 particles.
For reference, N99 (FFP3) filters are the bare minimum needed for anyone who works with hazardous materials, like Asbestos.
This is important because fine particulate matter is a concern for people's health. According to the U.S. Department of Health, fine airborne particulate matter "are able to travel deeply into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs. Exposure to fine particles can cause short-term health effects such as eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and shortness of breath."
It is recommended that the filters are changed regularly to prevent potential contamination and inhalation of things like viruses when the mask is removed.
The rest of the mask, however, has been specially designed to enable it to be boil sanitized in a regular cooking pot or baby bottle sanitizer.
It comes in a range of colors including, but not limited to:
- Blue with a white strap,
- Blush with a white strap,
- Green with a black strap, and;
- Black with a black strap.
The mask, at present, has various manufacturing centers around the world including the United States, The United Kingdom, Central Europe, and China.
We should also note that the mask is not suitable for children.
How does the LMP S2 reusable mask compare to conventional N95 masks?
Conventional N95 masks tend to be of fabric construction, and so are notoriously fragile, and often uncomfortable to wear. The vast majority are also made to be a one-size-fits-all which means they are usually less than adequate at providing a good face fit.
Face fitting is essential for a good face mask as it prevents air (and any contaminants therein) bypassing the filter and entering the mask through any gaps that may be present around the edge of the mask.
A good face mask should not only have a filter capable of capturing even the smallest contaminants, like viruses but should also eliminate, as far as reasonably practicable, the possibility of airflow around the mask.
This is where LMP's S2 reusable mask is far superior. Being made of medical-grade silicone it is much more likely to take the shape of your face -- ensuring a more or less universal fit.
Not only that, but its soft elastomeric material is much easier on the skin, allowing you to wear the mask for longer without feeling any discomfort.
Its internal frame also keeps the mask's main shape intact ensuring it doesn't buckle every time you inhale, like other N95 masks.
Another benefit of LMP's S2 over conventional N95 masks is its front-fitted N99 (FFP3) and carbon activated filter. This allows you to easily inhale around 99% fresh air every time you take a breath.
N95 filters, on the other hand, only provide around 95% fresh air. But wait, it gets better.
Unlike traditional N95 facemasks, the LMP S2 comes with a specially designed dual-valve either side of the mask. This ensures an equal and improved airflow in and out of the product.
Not only is this less stifling for the user, compared to N95 masks, but it also drastically reduces the build-up of humidity inside it. This will keep you face nice and fresh, instead of clammy, but, for people who wear glasses, will also prevent them from fogging while wearing it -- win, win.
All well and good, but the main USP for the LMP S2 is the fact that the mask itself is cleanable. Silicone is inherently heat resistant and so, it is very easy to clean using boiling water or a dedicated sanitizer.
This will help destroy any pathogens, and other contaminants, that may linger on your mask after a hard day's work.
For this reason, the LMP S2 is more economical than conventional N95 masks, not to mention better for the environment. While you will need to replace the filters regularly, you won't need to throw the whole thing away after each and every use.
How much does the LMP S2 reusable mask cost?
LMP's S2 reusable mask is not yet available commercially, but you can pre-order some via their IndieGoGo crowdfunding page. They plan to ship products sometime in June of this year (but be sure to check in for updates on their progress).
At the time of writing, depending on the level of funding you are willing to provide, you will be supplied with the following:
- 25€ - This level of investment will secure you 1 mask and a supply of 10 disposable filters.
- 45€ - For this amount of investment you will secure yourself 2 masks and 20 disposable filters.
- 105€ - For this, you will get your hands on 5 masks and 50 disposable filters.
- 100€ - 100 Euros will net you 10 masks as well as 100 disposable filters.
- 380€ - This is their mega bundle option and will land you 20 masks and a whopping 200 disposable filter supply.
They ship worldwide and you will be able to buy additional supplies of filters when their product starts shipping.
What are the benefits of the LMP's S2 reusable mask?
We have already touched on some of this above, but the main benefits of the LMP S2 reusable mask are as follows:
- It is made of medical-grade silicone. This is not only hygienic, but it also offers a superior, and more comfortable, face fit compared to standard facemasks.
- Its dual filter technology will keep your face fresh and clean and prevent the buildup of humidity inside the mask. This makes it an ideal choice for, among other people, those who wear glasses.
- The mask is reusable and is easily cleaned and sterilized. This is not only better for your wallet but is also great for the environment.
- The mask makes use of N99 (FFP3) and carbon activated filters. These offer a superior level of filtration over N95 filters.
- The mask's shape protects a much larger portion of your face compared to other more traditional N95 masks.
- LMP's S2 also comes with its own specially designed head strap for added comfort and superior face fitting. The straps, like the main mask, are also washable.
If we have piqued your interest, then be sure to check out the LMP's IndieGoGo crowdfunding page for more information.