SALEM, Mass. – KnowAtom, an organization known for K-8 science curriculum and lab supplies, offered N95s to hospitals who politely declined, citing brand loyalty and 'plenty available.' KnowAtom now hopes the NIOSH approved respirators that hospitals declined will help others.
N95s are the gold standard for respiratory protection, filtering hazardous airborne particles.
Until now, they have mainly been reserved for medical environments because they are designed to protect a wearer against tiny droplets that can carry COVID19 called aerosols, produced when people breathe.
N95s don't act like a spaghetti-strainer. They are constructed of non-woven fibers with an electrostatic charge that captures ultra-small particles, making them a powerful tool against airborne viruses like aerosolized COVID.
Unlike a cough or sneeze, aerosols float much longer and further. Research indicates they're able to be pushed by fans and pumped by HVAC systems well beyond 6-foot social distances.
As a science lab supplier, KnowAtom has relationships with manufacturers that produce NIOSH approved N95s outside the United States.
"We made a quick decision to step in on behalf of our neighbors. It's what we'd want others to do for us.," says KnowAtom CEO Francis Vigeant.
Initially, there was an outreach to a variety of medical centers. Surprisingly every institution politely declined. "We'd see articles citing a shortage but they'd tell us 'we have plenty' and that they're only buying a specific American brand. It became predictable," says Vigeant.
The brand-loyal medical and healthcare market is creating a unique opportunity for a healthy public to protect themselves against aerosolized COVID-19 with standard NIOSH approved N95 respirators.
"We're not in the business of N95s, we just want these things gone and to good use. They can still protect lives; it just may not be the lives of healthcare and front line workers we originally thought of," Vigeant says.
People breathe 10-15,000 liters of air a day but a virus can't identify a healthcare worker.
Cloth and surgical masks slow an infected person from disbursing COVID. N95s provide healthy people repository protection against airborne biologicals like a virus. If an N95 fits well, experts say it's your best chance at stopping airborne viruses from entering your respiratory tract.
Healthy people that want respiratory protection against aerosolized COVID19 should consider N95s for "stuffy" indoor areas with poor air quality, and close enclosed quarters like subways, buses, classrooms, conference rooms, elevators, and medical offices.
KnowAtom is solving a problem for the public by making cases (400 masks) of NIOSH approved N95 masks available for sale to any organization, including colleges, firefighters, and communities near wildfires. If your organization needs respirators we'll sell you what we have. To buy cases of N95s please fill out this form.
If you're looking to buy small quantities or for personal use, try buying real N95s from an online N95 seller like this one.