Can Japanese Pitta masks protect against Coronavirus?

pitta masks protect us from coronavirus

With the outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus, interest has surged in Japanese Pitta masks. Smart Air has received a flood of questions about how well they filter the coronavirus and other viruses.

Japanese Pitta mask popular in Chinese cities as well as India and Korea

 

The Japanese Pitta masks are sleek and incredibly popular, but there’s little information available on how well they filter out tiny virus-sized particles.

How Big Are Coronavirus Particles?

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019 nCoV, is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan in China’s Hubei Province. Scientists have already taken electron microscope images to measure the size of coronavirus “virions” (or particles). The virions are spherical particles with diameters of approximately 125 nm (0.125 microns). The smallest particles are 0.06 microns, and the largest are 0.14 microns.

Coronavirus virus particle size

That makes the coronavirus particles smaller than PM2.5 particles, but bigger than some dust particles and gases.

Coronavirus particle size compared to other pollution types

How Well Can Japanese Pitta Masks Capture Virus-sized Particles

Coronavirus & Mask Livestream

Wondering whether masks work to protect you against the coronavirus? Check out our livestream recap covering all the info here!

To test how well the Pitta masks can capture tiny particles, Smart Air engineer Kang Wei purchased a pack of Pitta masks and tested them against 3M N95 masks.

 

To measure particles, we used a Met One 531, which measures particles as small as 0.3 microns. That’s about 3 times bigger than the coronavirus. Research shows that particles 0.3 microns in diameter are the hardest to capture. So if a mask does a good job at capturing particles 0.3 microns in diameter, then we can be confident it can also capture smaller, 0.1 micron particles.

Not sure why? Check out the science behind the magic ‘0.3 micron’ particle size »

Pitta Mask Effectiveness

We compared the Japanese Pitta mask with two other 3M masks. The results weren’t pretty.

 

comparioson graph and data of effectiveness of Pitta mask and 3M mask at filtering PM0.3 and PM2.5

 

The Pitta mask captured an astounding 0% of 0.3-micron particles and only 64% of larger 2.5-micron particles. Maybe the result is a fluke? Separate tests from AQ Blue found similar results.

Pitta Mask PM2.5 Test

This result strongly suggests that the Pitta mask does a very poor job of capturing 0.1 micron particles, like the coronavirus particles. Meanwhile, the 3M masks captured over 90% of 0.3 micron particles.

In fact, data shows even a surgical mask would provide more protection from the coronavirus than the Pitta mask. Tests from researchers at the University of Massachussets found that a surgical mask they bought on the streets of Nepal captured over 60% of 0.1 micron particles. A 3M N95 mask captured over 80%.

 

 

In short, this data shows the Pitta mask is not effective at capturing small particles. That means it won’t do a good job filtering things like PM2.5, viruses, bacteria, or fine particles.

 

Does Pitta Claim It Filters Viruses?

But the Pitta mask isn’t all bad. First off, their official store never claims that it is effective against PM2.5 or smaller particles for that matter.

Pitta mask official store claim PM10

 

The Pitta masks claim to be 99% effective at filtering out pollen and dust particles, which range from 5-100 microns in sizeThe Pitta mask might be great at capturing pollen, but for viruses such as the coronavirus and flu, the Pitta mask doesn’t cut it.

Bottom line:  Pitta masks can capture large pollen particles and are stylish to boot! However, they are completely ineffective against 0.3-micron particles.

This means they do a very poor job of capturing the coronavirus or any other virus for that matter. A far more effective and affordable solution to filter out viruses such as the coronavirus would be to use any of one of the high-scoring, scientifically validated masks.

Read more on the method we used to test how well Pitta masks capture tiny, coronavirus-sized particles »


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Covid19 coronavirus and masks livestream video

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Harrison Anderson

Can a mask be microwaved to quick sanitize it?

Ethel - Smart Air

We’ve just published an article on microwaving masks, feel free to check it out! https://smartairfilters.com/en/blog/microwave-mask-disinfect-covid-virus/

LIsa

I just bought the Pitta mask because I am in Chiang Mai and it is fire season. The air is thick with pollution and when you walk, your eyes burn slightly. When I opened the Pitta mask which is vacuum sealed in plastic, I put it on. The smell from the chemicals used to make the mask is so strong that I wouldn’t want to wear it. I had purchased two, one for me, the other for an acquaintance whose chest has been hurting from the pollution. Now, I feel bad that I gave it to her.

salih

hi there, i was looking for the average lifetime of a ffp2/3 mask. does it stand for long uses, let say couple days? or shall we replace it every day?

Liz - Smart Air

Hi Saliih, you need to change your mask every day, ideally after each use. But we were talking about this the other day, the used mask can be put aside at a place with good sunlight and airflow for a week or so and then be reused again, because the virus should be inactivated by then. You can also try to use an alcohol gel rub to clean your mask. In general it will not affect the mask’s efficiency. We will have an article coming out soon on how to clean your mask. So stay tuned!

Patricia Papillion

Thank you 🙏 for all this information, when do you think you will upload the diy mask tutorial. I want to make or sew some masks & give away. I know they’re not perfect but this layered approach will help protect against covid-19 without compromising availability of the medical masks for those on the front lines – which is an issue at least here in the US!

robert.mckay

I love my SMART air products- you guys are awesome.
Question, would using DOUBLE HEPPA filters rather than one be more awesome ?