Can Full Face Snorkel Masks really offer protection against Covid 19?
Full face snorkel masks (FFSM) have been taking off in the world of snorkeling since they first appeared on the market in around 2014. Manufacturers of these masks are now working to adapt filter attachments to provide protection for front line teams and patients against Covid-19.
In this article we look at the race to invent a filter adapter that will help ward off this world wide threat.
Click the link below to take you to the answer of your most pressing question, or keep scrolling to read the entire article.
Disclaimer and Full Disclosure
The information provided on this page has been gathered from various sources. All sources and links are listed at the bottom of this page. This information is dynamic in nature and continually changing. We are keeping this page as up to date as we can.
It must be noted that unless specifically stated, these products are not yet certified by any State, Country, Territory or Medical Authority.
What is a Full Face Snorkel Mask?
Let's start with the basics of what a full face snorkel mask is and how it works.
Full face snorkel masks have become popular with beach holiday makers since they first popped up for sale around 5 years ago. These cover your entire face and have 2 separate sections inside the mask - the top section is for viewing, and the lower for breathing.
The snorkel is incorporated into the mask. The snorkel piece is joined to the rest of the mask at the top of the head and air is funneled down the snorkel tube and internally through the mask.
The reason these are fast growing in popularity for snorkelers is that there is no fogging in the top viewing section. Also as there's no mouthpiece, this completely eliminates the gag reflex that many snorkelers experience.
These masks have wide elasticized straps to hold them in place that are easily adjustable, and comfortable. A silicone skirt runs around the edge of the face that creates a water-tight seal when submerged.
What level of protection can a Full Face Snorkel Mask offer?
Standard full face snorkel masks do NOT have an air filter. The snorkel piece is only a tube that's been designed to channel air to swimmers just beneath the surface of water.
Covid 19 can be transmitted through the eyes, and tiny viral particles, known as aerosols. As a standard mask does not come with an air filter, you will still breathe in whatever airborne particles enter the tube.
When it's used without any modifications at all, it will provide very basic protection to your face from direct airborne virus or saliva. Of course, wearing this in public will also stop you from unintentionally touching your face.
You may have started to notice shields being erected in retail checkout areas recently to help slow the spread of the virus. Full face masks will work in a similar way to these shields, and to face visors or shields that some healthcare workers use.
What is a N95 Respirator?
Anything designated as a N95 Respirator (sometimes also called an N95 Filter) means that this item meets testing standards to block at least 95 percent of very small test particles. By small, we're talking 0.3 of a micron.
N95 Respirators are different to surgical face masks which are loose fitting, disposable and designed to block larger particles.
The N95 grade of filtration has been deemed effective for reducing the transmission of CoronaVirus and is commonly used by healthcare professionals.
Unfortunately, even when fitted correctly, an N95 respirator doesn't completely eliminate the risk of illness or death. (Source - FDA.Gov)
Snorkel Mask Manufacturers are Testing Prototype Air Filters
Once it became clear that there was a massive stock shortfall of N95 Respirators to protect medical staff, snorkel mask manufacturers started to test prototype N95 air filter adapters that could be fitted to existing full face snorkel masks.
As everything is moving so fast, nothing is yet certified and all are in prototype stage only.
Ocean Reef Group - Range of Adapters
Ocean Reef are making a range of adapters to fit any of their Ocean Reef snorkel masks. They are also testing and producing adapters to fit other common full face snorkel masks.
Ninja Shark AA99 Prototype Air Filter
Ninja Shark are also designing prototype air filters to fit directly onto their Ninja Air mask. Ninja Shark are crowdfunding at the moment, and have almost reached their target to start manufacturing and testing.
Their filter they are testing will not fit onto the Ninja Equalizer mask. If the initial prototype proves to be successful, they will expand on the design to incorporate a filter that fits their Ninja Equalizer mask.
As with all of these air filters, these are not yet certified or approved as they are still in the initial testing stage of development. Click here to find out more, or to donate.
Car Racing Teams and Others Join the Fight
Racing car teams have access to some of the most advanced testing machinery in the world. A group of Formula One Racing Teams in the United Kingdom have joined the Ventilator Challenge UK to design, manufacture, assemble and test medical ventilators.
A Super Car Racing team in Australia are using their resources to come up with solutions to the current shortage of medical equipment.
Erebus Super Car Racing Team
Erebus is a SuperCar Racing Team in Australia who are working on what they have called their e-Mask. Similar to Ninja Shark and Ocean Reef, Erebus’ e-Mask consists of a full face face snorkel mask fitted with a 3D printed adapter that will allow the easy fitting and replacement of P2/N95 filters.
Erebus are also designing a large shield for patients called the ‘e-Aerosol Box’. This is placed over an infected patient’s head and chest.
Quoting from the US Food and Drug web site at: