NEWS RELEASE                                                                                     December 2020

Holistic and Timely Use of Filtration Resources Needed to Fight COVID

The filtration industry can save hundreds of thousands of lives in the next year regardless of how fast vaccines can be produced and delivered. More efficient masks and air filters are needed. Alternatives are not nearly as effective because

  • Sanitation is proving to be a minor solution because the virus is airborne.
  • Social distancing is as effective in avoiding virus as it is avoiding perfume or cigarette smoke.
  • Partitions cause turbulence and can cause viruses to remain in suspension but do not prevent the small particles from easily flowing around any structure.
  • Increasing the amount of outside air flowing through a room is hugely expensive as opposed to filtration.

The challenge is to make adequate numbers of efficient masks and filters available now but avoid the cost of mothballing newly built facilities when the vaccines become effective.

There is a holistic approach which will accomplish this goal. All air filters are essentially just filter media with a support structure. Membranes can be used in masks and in gas turbine intake filters. There are very specialized facilities to make the media but a variety of sources can be utilized to make the structures,. Many of these sources can add second shifts and produce filter housings or masks and then switch to some other products.


The Mcilvaine forecast for the 2022 filter market done last year is now outdated but does show the use of membranes, non wovens and other media in various filtration applications.  By using a variety of media types in masks and air filters there will be enough media for the short term and no need to build facilities which would only be used temporarily. The fact that there are a number of different  types of vaccines being produced is comparable to using a number of different media types.

There is a fast track program to expand world vaccine production by orders of magnitude over the period of a year or two and then scale back. This is much more of a challenge than scaling up to produce the necessary masks.

In terms of filters there are small air purifiers, larger laminar flow systems, fan filter units, and  upgraded HVAC systems.


All of these products will save lives.  However, none will have the cost/benefit ratio of masks.  The holistic program should therefore prioritize  mask production.

Wildfire health impairment is steadily increasing. There is growing evidence that trace contaminants such as lead in the air are more prevalent than previously known. So even in a city such as St Louis it will be wise to wear a mask when the wind is blowing from the lead smelter. For many cities around the world air pollution is the cause of hundreds of thousands of deaths. Allergies impact millions. Many people have sensitive lungs.  All  of these factors provide long term demand for masks.

There will be a mix of disposable and reusable masks. But as shown in the daily CATER Mask Decisions the CATER Mask has the comfort, attractiveness, tight fit, efficiency and reusability which is needed.

Since a CATER mask could be used for 30 days or even longer it will require much less media.


Disposable masks will use much more media and will be less effective. If the mask costs $2 and is used for one day the monthly cost would be $60.  A $50 dollar CATER mask will have an 80 percent net efficiency or $0.63/ unit of efficiency vs disposable masks at 20 percent net efficiency or $3.00/unit of efficiency.


The disposable cost per unit of efficiency is 14 times that of a reusable mask with a 90 day life.

The cost per unit of efficiency of masks and filters is a function of the viral load as well as the filtration cost and efficiency.


An emitter of the virus is filtering out 100% of the load.  So the cost is only $0.63/ unit of virus avoided. He will also be a recipient. So even though the cost as a recipient is relatively high the net combination is less than the 0.63/unit efficiency.  

Upgrading an HVAC system is likely to involve less than 1% of the viral load generated by the individuals in the building. The problem is that recipients are likely to be located so that they are exposed prior to the ultimate removal in the HVAC system.  Even in an optimal setting with very good downward laminar flow air and exposure to 10% of the virus before it reaches the recipient the net unit efficiency cost is still higher than the mask.

Air purifiers in the rooms of people in households with coronavirus will come close to the unit efficiency cost of the mask but air purifiers in locations where there is no known virus are less cost effective.

A combination of masks and vaccinations can create herd immunity quickly. It will be a combination of CATER, surgical and medium efficiency cloth masks. It will not include inefficient cloth masks.

Because CATER masks are tight fitting, efficient, comfortable, and attractive they will be 93% effective where utilized. It was determined that only one mask would be needed per month and possibly only one per quarter due to reusability. This will be the most cost-effective option. 

The following table was presented last week in our Alert. Since that time there has been a change in the likely number of people vaccinated. On the other hand we learn that even with a 94% effectiveness most people will still want protection in case they are part of the 6%. Other vaccines with 60% effectiveness will result in no herd immunity even with 70% of the people vaccinated.

Therefore we still calculate that it would be desirable to spend $98 billion per month from now until June and then $60 billion per month in the subsequent quarter. This could drop to under $10 billion per month  by February of 2022.


There is a very large market potential for non COVID applications.


The potential for the COVID applications is much higher than other applications through 2021 but by 2022 it will be smaller than the other combined markets. So if CATER mask suppliers can capture a big share of the non COVID market there is not much of a peak and valley.


It is unlikely that CATER mask suppliers can scale up to $118 billion in revenues in 2021, but if they could capture 70% of the market there would be no downturn in 2022 and only a slight reduction in 2023.


The present revenues for masks which truly fit the CATER criteria are only around $200 million.  This means the 2021 market potential is 600 times larger than the present market. The long term market is 300 times the present market.

The challenge is to persuade people in highly polluted cities, in an area where there is wildfire smoke, working in meat processing plants, or just riding the subway that if they are going to wear a mask it should be a CATER mask.

It would normally be impossible to increase revenues for a type of product by 50 fold let alone 600 fold.  But the pandemic creates a huge opportunity for mask suppliers.  If they do not seize it many thousands of people will die. So it is not only the profit motive which should drive the mask suppliers.

CATER Mask Decisions will be providing the evidence which will show why CATER masks are the best choice for the wide range of applications. Mask suppliers can take advantage of this free service to educate their prospects.

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