In 2008, I was diagnosed with cancer. As a childhood cancer patient battling leukemia, my immune system was severely weakened by chemotherapy making me more susceptible to viruses, bacteria, and other germs. Because of this, any mild infection can quickly become a serious medical issue due to the body’s lack of defense.
After becoming a cancer survivor, we started OURA to help other patients stay safe with antimicrobial technology infused into the threads of everything that we make: hats, aprons, towels, and more.
With the rapid spread of COVID-19, we recognized that this virus presented a dire situation for everyone, not just immunocompromised patients. Most masks (manufactured or homemade) do not provide the proper protection to keep the wearer truly safe from bacteria and germs. Just like a strainer catching pasta, a mask catches particles on the filter concentrating them on your face. If germs get caught on the filter, it can remain there for up to 3 days and potentially infect you once the mask is touched.
We wanted to design a mask that could do more than just filter the virus and leave it stuck onto the mask. Because of this, we set to work creating a reusable antimicrobial mask that wouldn’t just filter germs, but be able to kill them as well.
Making the Mask
We created the OURA Air Mask to deliver both functionality and design. We worked with a team of scientists and designers to develop a mask that could filter the air effectively before it reaches your lungs.
Once we had the mask, we sent it out to independent third-party laboratories to validate its functionality. The results showed that the mask filtered 97% of bacteria and 98% of viruses.
The mask is also infused with antimicrobial compounds (like silver oxide and titanium dioxide) that are embedded directly into the threads to provide permanent antimicrobial protection. From the lab results, the OURA Air Mask was shown to be antimicrobial and water repellent to deflect sprays from coughs and sneezes.
While these test results were performed without an N95 filter, we are offering the mask with an optional filter for those who want additional filtration from ultra-fine particles like smoke, ash, and chemical vapors.
Who Are These Masks For?
We designed these masks to be effective enough for a cancer patient to use. But as the pandemic progressed, we realized we could help more people. We saw the need for our masks growing throughout the country so we started shipping our mask to those in dire need of it. Word of our masks got out and have started spreading into the hands of medical officials, first responders, factory laborers, grocery clerks and many more.
As the CDC has recommended the general population wear cloth masks, it is important to recognize that these masks do not effectively protect you. Cloth masks are ineffective for individual protection but act as physical barriers to protect others from aerosols. “So it's not going to protect you, but it is going to protect your neighbor,” said Dr. Dan Griffin, an expert on infectious diseases at Columbia. The OURA Air Mask doesn’t just protect others, but it protects you as well.
Due to this, we have increased production of our reusable antimicrobial masks in order better protect the general public. To make it as accessible as possible, all orders of the mask are $20 off for the month of April. Supplies are very limited with prioritization going to healthcare professionals, immunocompromised patients, and essential workers. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.