NEWS RELEASE                                                                                     January 2021

Huge High Efficiency Mask Market

  • Huge High Efficiency Mask Market
  • Mask Webinar Contained Lots of Discussion but not Much Disagreement
  • A Few Large Suppliers Can Stop COVID Quickly
  • Air Monitoring, Mask Quality Control, and Air Filtration are the Major “Pull” Tools

Huge High Efficiency Mask Market

Some European and Asian countries are now requiring the wearing of high efficiency masks in public. The ASTM is about to release a labeling program to allow mask purchasers to distinguish between two efficiency levels. Many experts are now advising that the big difference in protection makes it essential that people wear highly efficient masks.

An $80 billion dollar market now exists for masks which will not be able to meet the efficiency requirements of the near future. This is an average of  $10 per year for each citizen of the world.  With the requirement for more efficient masks and 100% use the market could exceed $240 billion or $30 per year per person over the next twelve months.


This will only happen with an extraordinary effort by many of the suppliers of products and services.  The Mcilvaine company has a support program and market forecasts for suppliers.  Details are found at

Bob McIlvaine can answer your questions at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  His cell is 847 226 2391


Mask Webinar Contained Lots of Discussion but not Much Disagreement

The mask webinar last week was more popular than we anticipated and a number of people who tried to participate could not. However, the webinar was recorded and is posted on YouTube.  In case you wanted to ask questions or debate issues, you can do so through input in the Alert.

 A number of outside speakers joined the session.

Dave Rousse of INDA explained how the non wovens association group had understood as early as March that some standard would be advisable for public masks. INDA  started working with  ASTM. The result is a standard soon to be released which sets two efficiency levels. One is 20% or higher. The other is 50% and higher. When you consider that the virus is generally in larger particles or drops than used for the efficiency rating and that the effectiveness is the combined efficiency of masks on emitters and recipients these standards will greatly reduce COVID spread.

Eric Couch, consultant, believes the new administration can be persuaded to champion the new ASTM standards. His concept is to keep it simple and to first persuade a small group of experts with influence who would then persuade the decision makers.

It would be interesting to hear from Dave and Erick as to whether the new N95 mask requirements in Austria and possibly Germany will impact U.S. standards. They should give the Biden Administration ammunition to hold out for some mask efficiency program.

Eric recommends the use of multiple mask designs including one with flat filters and external braces. This design lends itself to quick scale up. Sabrina and Katherine Paseman of Fix the Mask, have designed an external brace which is comfortable and tight fitting. It gives surgical masks the tight fit and efficiency of N95 masks. During their presentation they pointed out the wide availability of surgical masks. With the Essential brace these masks would make most people safe.

The brace would also make more media available for filtration. This is important as Dave Rousse pointed out the 5 mm H2O maximum resistance for the 50-100% mask was a stumbling block  and may result in lower efficiency masks. Since pressure drop increases as the square of velocity it will not take much additional filter media area to reduce resistance.

Keith Dellagrotta and Jesse Chang of M^ have a program where a mask purchaser can use his mobile phone and select a mask which will provide a good fit. They are collaborating with Vogmask who has five different mask sizes. Based on the phone image the right size mask can be chosen. Jesse points out that most masks are designed for average sized Caucasian males.  The face size and shape differs greatly among the general population.

Jesse was asked about use of the phone app as a check on entrants to safe bubbles. He acknowledged that it would be good for that purpose but is worried that it might be an infringement of citizen rights. However, if it is going to be required to wear a mask it makes sense that requiring the wearing of efficient masks is no more of an infringement than the general mask mandate.

Bob McIlvaine introduced a five step program starting with mask manufacturing quality control, distribution quality control, an ASTM  or governmental minimum, a tested quality seal, and fit check. This has been also covered in the recent Alerts. The concept is that a mask purchaser would have  two guides. The basic minimum guide would be an ASTM or community standard (Europe).  In addition masks could also have a seal attesting to a higher level of performance than in the basic guide. The seal attests to specific filter testing as well as to quality control throughout manufacture and distribution.

The previous alerts are accessed at

the recording of the webinar is found at


A Few Large Suppliers Can Stop COVID Quickly

We have identified SGS, Eurofins, MPR, Mann-Hummel, Daikin, Johnson Controls, Ahlstrom, Camfil, 3M, Honeywell, Cummins, Lydall, Berry, and dozens of other companies who are capable of quickly implementing the Pull portion of the Push-Pull system.

ASTM labels and European Community mask initiatives along with local and country regulations provide the “push”.  Part of the push program is to limit occupancy of buildings. If you limit occupancy to 25% whereas average occupancy is 50% you have reduced the COVID risk by half. The “pull” part of the program is to offer validation for the actual risk and  alternative methods to reduce the risk to much lower percentages.

In earlier Alerts we pointed out that most facilities have many reasons to make visitors or employees feel as safe as possible . If the risk is reduced to the equivalent of 10% occupancy  It is five times lower than required.

The products and services are available to implement the “pull” initiative immediately. The challenge will be to create a rating system to reflect the increased safety. 

Eurofins has already done this for community masks. We discussed their initiative on January 20.  Here is their tested quality seal. Note that by validating fit and comfort they are making qualitative judgements. A validation of risk reduction compared to 25% occupancy involves a lesser qualitative component than one on comfort.


One company with a number of applicable products and services is SGS. One is a mobile monitoring laboratory

“SGS is adding to our comprehensive COVID-19 Recovery Assistance Services by coming directly to your location with our team, analytical expertise and rental offerings. Our mobile laboratory and field-deployable testing and analytical equipment are now available for SARS-CoV-2 detection in air and on surfaces.

SGS now offers near real-time Reverse Transcriptase Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-qPCR) data in air and on surface swab sampling with our new mobile laboratory or RT-qPCR instrument and analyst options. The ability to provide near-real-time SARS-CoV-2 presence data using gold-standard RT-qPCR, eliminates the 2-3-day turnaround time that was needed to ship samples to the lab and wait for results, a major step in speeding reaction to possible COVID events. The service supports analysis of air monitoring using Teflon air filters and swab testing for cleaning verification.”

LuxuryRes, in collaboration with SGS, has developed and launched a new Hygiene Monitored (HM) program to help hotels address the spread of COVID-19. Here is how the user explains the benefits.

“With a focus on selling, managing, and marketing hotel properties with the use of its own reservation and management technology, LuxuryRes will now be able to provide cleaning audits via both self and remote assessment as a result of the HM program.

Hotels that successfully pass their audits will be able to display the HM Mark, which not only verifies their enhanced hygiene practices, but also makes booking easier for business travelers, as the HM mark enables them to compare the hygiene levels of inspected hotels.

The HM program comes at a time when cleaning and safety standards for travelers have become the most important deciding factor for corporations reviewing their business travel programs in response to COVID-19. Hotels will be able to use the HM program to validate the thoroughness of their cleaning procedures and increase hotel occupancy. The program includes a dedicated addendum covering compliance with WHO guidelines, which will help hotels to demonstrate their commitment to mitigating the spread of the virus.”

Note the  claim is to “validate thoroughness of cleaning and increase hotel occupancy” So this is highly qualitative and clearly shows the desire of the user to do something better than the minimum

SGS also has related services for building owners including

Outbreak Detection

  • Emergency protocols activation
  • Crisis steering committee
  • Risk communication (internal and external) activation
  • Initial pathogens monitoring and baseline definition

Operating Under Crisis

  • Emergency response service (ERS) – 24/7
  • Psychosocial support and staff wellbeing
  • Safe working operation and PPE (fit testing and advice)
  • Workplace disinfection
  • Remote inspections (SGS QiiQ)
  • Regular real/time monitoring and workplace assessment
  • Hazardous waste management

Resume Business

  • Clearance verification
  • Psychosocial support and staff wellbeing
  • Business resume planning and lean process consulting
  • Risk communication

Relative to occupational hygiene, the following services are supplied

  • Qualitative assessments per Similar Exposure Groups (SEG)
    • Hazard identification
    • Estimating potential severity of exposure
    • Sampling plan development
  • Quantitative assessments including:
    • Airborne chemical contaminant exposure measurements & evaluations
    • Physical exposure measurements & evaluations (e.g. noise, radiation, heat stress, vibration)
    • Biological agent evaluations
  • Exposure data management
    • Local & global standards comparisons
    • Statistical analysis
    • Data base inputs
  • Control program development, auditing
    • Ventilation system evaluation
    • Hearing conservation
    • Respiratory protection

SGS is very involved with air monitoring including indoor, ambient and stack monitoring,  Through its Galson subsidiary it rents particle counters and other equipment

Galson also supplies Smart Sense which monitors volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide, temperature, pressure, humidity and other contaminants. SGS Galson has brought the Internet of Things (IOT) — networking smart devices to enable data collection and exchange– to the industrial hygiene industry with the SmartSense cloud-based monitoring and sampling initiation system. Direct read capabilities include Total Particulate, PID, CO, CO2, SO2, O3, EtO, CH4 and more. Paired with the direct read sensors, active sampling capabilities include silica, VOCs, metals, and more! This is a great tool for collecting exposure data 24/7 for Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), wildfires, perimeter and task monitoring, and other monitoring situations.

The next article explains how all these capabilities can be used in the Pull initiative.


Air Monitoring, Mask Quality Control, and Air Filtration are the Major “Pull” Tools

Masks are the most important tool.  If everyone entering a “safe bubble wears a tight fitting efficient mask the virus risk is reduced to the equivalent of 1% occupancy. However, in lunch areas, bathrooms, and in  private offices or other low traffic areas where it will be desirable to remove the masks it will be necessary to filter the air.

Elevators and other spaces where there is higher than typical risk should also be supplied with HEPA filtered air. Restaurants can employ Fan Filter Units in the ceilings. Partitions are a poor substitute.

Foot sanitizers can provide additional protection when located at the entrance.

In order to provide rating such as “equivalent to 1% occupancy”  an air monitoring and control system is required.

McIlvaine has written extensively about these systems in Coronavirus Technology Solutions and also recorded interviews such as

August 5, 2020 - Safe Buildings Interview with Tyler Smith of Johnson Controls

By integrating HVAC, lighting and security systems into a single digital platform like Johnson Controls Metasys® building automation system, building owners and operators can easily troubleshoot issues and implement system changes.

Tyler pointed out that the system can provide the right balance between energy consumption and safety. In areas with higher virus loads more efficient filters can be utilized and the number of air changes can be increased. More outside air can be used to dilute the virus load.  But this brings up the subject of the contaminant burden in outside vs indoor air. In polluted areas the particulate load from outside air will be significant.

To view this YouTube recording click here:

 July 15, 2020 - qlAir interviewed on holistic approach to providing clean air solutions for COVID

Ellie Amirnasr and Marcel Schoch explained how measurement of particles, CO2, humidity and other air constituents can be the basis for providing COVID mitigation solutions which balance effectiveness and cost. The use of the approach in a mall was discussed. The degree of social distancing and the percentage of outside air in a given space can be determined based on CO2 content. An actual case history in a hospital was used as an example. The problem was VOC reduction. But the approach would be the same for COVID minimization.

To view this YouTube recording click here:

May 1, 2020 - CRI Fan Filter Units for Hospitals and Industry

Tim Werkema and Bret Asper of Cleanrooms International discussed the recent activity in converting hospital rooms to negative pressure isolation units using their fan filter units. The units are supplied with wheels for convenient temporary installation.  They can be used without ductwork or with a duct through the wall or a window to the outside. The units have variable speed drives and air flow can be controlled.  The company was able to meet the sudden demand by hospitals for thousands of these units.  The 2 ft x 4 ft HEPA filter is efficient at removing viruses. The company is equipped to meet the rising demand in meat processing and other industries as well as in healthcare.  To view this YouTube recording click here: 

June 11, 2020 - Foot Sanitizer Provides Major Reduction in COVID Transmission

Since our earlier webinar with PathO3Gen Solutions there have been many more examples of foot sanitizers reducing pathogens. Hospitals are quantifying the reduction of HAI including coronavirus with sanitizers placed at main entrances and to sensitive areas such as compounding pharmacies. Charlie Rodriguez and Robyn Collins explained why a combination of ozone and UV light makes a foot sanitizer very effective for reducing infections. The sanitizer is finding use in cleanrooms, food manufacturing, restaurants and other facilities. To view this YouTube recording click here:

The monitoring and control program can include the number of people in various locations in the facility, the quality of air in that location and the verification that each person entering the building wears an efficient mask. In areas where fan filter units are used for local air purification the air flow direction should also be monitored. 

The software  can also qualitatively assess the risk when masks are removed in low traffic areas.  The PM levels in the area served by the FFUs can be compared to that elsewhere in the facility.

The program can be initiated either with collaboration or by individual initiatives of the major suppliers. SGS can expand its LuxuryRes program for hotels by adding a Virus risk validation to the one already in place on sanitation. 

Mann +Hummel has the air monitoring software, the filters and reusable masks to move forward.  Daikin with its HVAC and air filter activities is equally well positioned. It already has a holistic approach as explained by Nathaniel Nance in a McIlvaine interview. To view this YouTube recording click here:

The three steps in the Pull sequence are :


The positive receptivity to the approach for hotels was demonstrated by LuxuryRes. Schools, restaurants, churches, theaters, sport stadiums, fitness centers, dental offices, malls and most other facilities which attract the public will have similar incentives.