SAN ANTONIO – As businesses with the capability to make face masks for all of us to wear are busy at their sewing machines, a local company is working to take those efforts up a notch, making the masks better and potentially safer.
Filters4Air has been making air conditioning filters of various sizes for many years for hospitals and homes, but it is currently working on a much smaller scale for the same clients.
Instead of keeping the air clean for building HVAC systems, it’s your lungs that are at stake now with the coronavirus.
So in addition to its regular air conditioning filter manufacturing, on the other side of the room there’s another group of workers that are cutting small squares of filter material to insert into homemade or paper face masks.
David Dilling, owner of Filters4Air, says while they have not been tested, these inserts are made of a material that has a 90-95% rating. That means it blocks 90-95% of particles in the air.
“It’s similar to the N95′s but it hasn’t been tested for that yet,” he said.
The N95 mask is considered the standard for face mask efficiency in coronavirus environments.
Dillings says he was first approached by a hospital system that already had a business arrangement with the company to investigate how they could upgrade paper masks so they could be reusable.
At the time, the hospital was trying to make do for their personnel with what you might describe as a MacGyver approach.
“They were taking metal off the air filters they had bought at Home Depot and ripping out the median. I told them I could get them a better quality product… a higher efficiency filter,” said Dilling.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of the inserts are being ordered by groups like Veterans Affairs and University Health System, but Filters4Air says they have also been donating to group homes and medically fragile populations upon request.
The inserts are made of polypropylene, and can be used in the pocket of fabric face mask, or even inside a paper mask. It has not been specifically tested for skin contact however.
Dilling says this is not to be confused with fiberglass air filter materials, which absolutely should not be used as a filter for a face mask. Fiberglass is dangerous to the lungs and skin.
The website www.filters4air.com also offers subscription services for home delivery of HVAC filters.