|Photo from yahoo.com.sg|
Back in June 2013, smokey haze shrouded Singapore as the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) soared past 400 - the highest in Singapore's history - no thanks to the raging fires in Indonesia. And the only way to I could protect my family and myself from the harmful airborne pollutants was to wear a protective mask when outdoors.
Fast forward to present day and while we have been relatively blessed not to have experienced such worse haze conditions since then, a new threat has emerged this time around. The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS virus for short, is a new and potentially deadly virus that has killed at least ten people and sickened dozens more in South Korea since last month, prompting travel warnings and a massive quarantine order. Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath - just like many other less serious viruses, which makes MERS difficult to diagnose at first and is something that is reminiscent of the SARS outbreak we had here in 2003.
All these make the threat of MERS arriving on our shores very real and while our Ministry of Health has put measures in place to prevent the MERS outbreak in Singapore, it takes an irresponsible individual to ignite something potentially contagious. And the unfortunate happens, we will need those protective masks more than ever.
Problem is, the conventional N95 masks on the market are not certified for use in children. This is because in order for the N95 masks to be effective, they need to maintain a well-fitted seal at all times, which may be difficult to achieve in young children. Also, young children may find it uncomfortable to wear a tight-fitting mask and will very likely adjust the mask that is worn, reducing the effectiveness of the mask.
Well, not anymore.
Developed by ST Engineering subsidiary Innosparks, the Air+ Smart Mask has been developed for use by children aged seven and above. In fact, it comes in three sizes and was tested to assess its fit on children.
The first thing that struck me when I unpackaged the Smart Mask was how compact it was. It is flat-foldable so that it fits easily into pockets and bags.
In addition, the Smart Mask uses the latest research in nose cushion materials - and it is designed for Asian faces too! - to ensure a snug fit on different facial profiles, conforming to one's face to provide a good seal.
To allow for greater breathing comfort, the mask also has a built-in smart valve which is fitted on the inside of the mask. This makes it more efficient in venting out stale air as the exhalation jets directly open the valve, keeping it open for a longer period than normal valves.
But perhaps, the greatest selling point for me since I am now a parent is the Smart Mask is designed for almost everyone, including children as young as 7 years old. It comes in small, medium and large sizes, with the smallest size being suitable for face sizes of children 7 years or older. The Smart Mask also has adjustable straps which makes it easy for users to put on and ensure a comfortable fit for different head sizes.
|Edited: A reader pointed out that Ash had worn his mask wrongly. The upper strap should have been above his ear, like how I worn mine. Sorry for the oversight.|
Notice the little contraption that is protruding from Ash's mask in the above photo? This gem of an innovation is actually the world's first Micro Ventilator.
The AIR+ Micro Ventilator is a simple add-on micro ventilator that clips on to the Smart Mask to improve air circulation within the mask through the extraction of heat, moisture and accumulated carbon dioxide.
We know how breathing in recycled carbon dioxide leads to headaches, nausea, and dizziness - especially more so for children since they have shallower lungs and the elderly who have reduced lung capacity. Prolonged wearing of a protective mask leads to heat and moisture trapped within the mask, making it uncomfortable for the wearer.
But with the AIR+ Micro Ventilator, it can reduce humidity in the mask by up to 40% and temperature by up to 4°C hence, improving breathing comfort and resulting in cooler airflow over an extended period of time.
Attaching the AIR+ Micro Ventilator to the Smart Mask is a breeze too and it is so easy that the boys could do it all by themselves!
The AIR+ Micro Ventilator is powered by a built-in rechargeable lithium-polymer battery and can be charged via a USB cable (included in the package). It takes about an hour to be fully charged and can be used for up to 2 hours.
As a system, the Smart Mask and AIR+ Micro Ventilator not only offers wearers adequate protection against airborne contaminants (such as haze particles and volcanic ash), wearers also experience improved breathing comfort and cooler airflow over extended period of time.
Previously, there was no viable option for parents who wish to protect their children against its harmful effects. Now with the AIR+ Smart Mask, all of us are better prepared.
So not only is the Smart Mask N95-certified, it protects well (and better than current masks on the market) against viruses and pandemics such as SARS and MERS and the only product that is catered for children with a typical Asian facial profile. Pair it together with the AIR+ Micro Ventilator - which removes accumulated carbon dioxide that may cause discomfort and breathing difficulties - and parents can sleep easy.
CONGRATULATIONS to the following winners!
You have each won a set of Smart Masks (one S, one M & one L) and AIR+ Micro Ventilator!
1. Amy Yeo
2. Koreen Hong
3. Jean Tan
4. Jessica Lee
5. Rosalind Leong
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org latest by 17 September 2015, 12pm for details on prize redemption. Else, I will pick another winner. Thanks!
The Smart Mask is retailing at $7.20 for a 3-piece pack, while the AIR+ Micro Ventilator is $29.90. Both are available at all Watsons Singapore and Watsons online store. For more details, visit www.airplus.sg.