Respirone Nano AV99 Mask to Protect against COVID-19
By Treshan Fernando
The Respirone Nano AV99 became a popular talking point recently, as it became one of the first face masks entirely designed and produced locally. The mask, which is reportedly environmentally friendly, comfortable and well equipped to prevent the wearer contracting COVID-19, is being treated as a milestone in Sri Lankan innovation.
Recently, the mask was presented to the Cabinet and Minister Bandula Gunawardane hopes that the mask would aid in the country’s efforts to fight COVID-19 and become a quality product worth exporting.
Who made it?
What’s unique in this face mask is that it was entirely designed in Sri Lanka. A team of specialists from the University of Peradeniya, overseen by Professor of Chemistry Gamini Rajapakse, was able to develop this face mask.
Manufacture of the mask is also being handled locally by Sarasavi Industries Pvt. Ltd., Minister Gunwardane confirmed.
Minister of Trade Bandula Gunawardane also played a role in the development of this face mask. The Vice Chancellor of the University of Peradeniya Professor Upul Dissanayake recently thanked the Minister for his support during the research and development phase.
The mask has been manufactured by incorporating nanotechnology into its design. Speaking to the media, Prof. Gamini Rajapakse said that there are three layers to the mask, each with its own function.
The first layer he noted would protect the wearer from dust, carbon dioxide and various other forms of pollution. He stressed that this was a feature that few other masks available in the market possess.
The middle layer is designed to protect the user against bacteria and COVID-19. He said that unlike most masks, which allow COVID-19 particles to remain on the mask for long periods of time, the RESPIRONE NANO AV99 face mask kills all bacteria and virus particles it meets.
Finally, the inner layer has been developed with the intention of providing maximum comfort to the wearer. The layer is made of a soft, cloth-based material which is meant to be comfortable for an individual to wear.
What makes this mask unique?
At the special Media conference held on 8 April, the Minister also highlighted the uniqueness of the face mask. He said the mask is not unique only because it was developed in Sri Lanka but also because it holds several features that other masks do not have.
One feature the Minister was eager to stress upon was that this mask was entirely waterproof. Like lotus leaves, Minister Gunawardane said that water droplets do not get absorbed into the material.
He demonstrated at the Media conference, by pouring water onto a sample RESPIRONE NANO AV99 mask, that any water droplets are repelled by the nanotechnology that has been used in the design of the mask.
Another feature of the mask was that it was environmentally friendly. The mask is meant to be rewashed and can be washed around 25 times without losing its protective qualities. Prof. Rajapakse said this was a unique feature as most other masks lose this quality once washed.
As a result of its reusability, this mask causes limited harm to the environment through disposal.
Additionally, Prof. Rajapakse also revealed that the mask is biodegradable. This means that once the mask is inevitably thrown away, it will still cause minimal damage to the environment.
How is distribution going?
The RESPIRONE NANO AV99 mask was released to the local market on 9 April. Minister Gunawardane stated that the mask will be priced at Rs 200 and sold at Sathosa outlets islandwide.
Whilst this mask is notably more costly than other single-use masks, the Minister argued that in the long term, this mask is the most cost-effective option. He said that since the mask may be used repeatedly, a single mask may be used for a few months whereas other masks last only around a day.
Prior to the launch, these masks were distributed to all members of Parliament, the Minister confirmed. The mask was unveiled in Parliament on 25 February and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was ceremonially presented with the mask.
Additionally, on 27 April, the Minister revealed that plans are underway to distribute these masks to Government agencies at discounted prices in a bid to protect the employees from the growing spread of COVID-19.
On the same day, the face mask was produced before Cabinet and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa requested Minister of Health Pavithradevi Wanniarachchi to determine how this technology could be used by the Government to fight COVID-19.
Plans are also underway to make the RESPIRONE NANO AV99 face mask an exportable product, Minister Gunawardane said at a Media conference held on 27 April. He revealed that third party testing is being carried out to allow these masks to be exported. During a visit to the University of Peradeniya in March, Minister Gunawardane told the Media that “in addition to being a country that imports masks, Sri Lanka would soon become a country that is capable of exporting masks.”