AusAir Raised $1.43M to Make Reusable, Breathable, Botanical Masks

Cross-section of all the layers of AusAir masks.
Cross-section of all the layers of AusAir masks.
AusAir masks are engineered for ultimate comfort and protection. Photo: AusAir

With the entire world united to help us breathe, it’s refreshing to see everyone try to do their part. We’ve seen an ambitious UV-based disinfecting solutions and ventilator designs from CERN and MIT. Now, Australian startup AusAir has raised $1.43M to create reusable, breathable, botanically infused masks that block over 97% of PM2.5.

If you noticed that we said PM2.5 and not N95, you’d be absolutely right. N95 is the gold standard in protecting from airborne viruses.

PM2.5 on the other hand is a much more general purpose filter. It’s designed to protect from Particulate Matter like pollutants and dust particles that are up to 2.5 microns in size. For some context, a human hair is 50-70 microns in diameter.

Illustration shows the size of PM2.5 relative to a human hair. Image courtesy: CARB
Photo: California Air Resources Board.

SARS-CoV-2 particles measure 0.1 micron in size. That said, viruses generally travel in droplets that can measure anywhere from 0.5 micron all the way up to 10 micron. This is where the percentage effectiveness of different masks comes from. Blocking also isn’t the only way to protect you, as some filters can deactivate the virus as well.

Beyond the potential to protect you from bacteria and viruses, PM2.5 masks improve the quality of the air you breathe. This is great for those dealing with asthma, diabetes or heart problems. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this crisis it’s just how polluted our air is.

Urban cyclist wearing AusAir masks to protect from pollutants. Image courtesy: AusAir
Urban cyclists and joggers are exposed to dangerous amounts of pollutants. Photo: AusAir

Botanical Benefits

What makes AusAir masks different from other PM2.5 masks is their filtration system. In addition to the inner and outer layers, they include an active carbon layer and a replaceable, botanical PM2.5 layer.

Selection of AusAir botanical filters for use in their masks. Image courtesy: AusAir
Replaceable botanical filters for AusAir masks. Photo: AusAir

Blank is their basic filter; protective against pollution, pollen, dust, germs and other airborne contaminants including bush fire smoke.

Tasmanian Lavender has been shown to enhance mood, effectively relieve stress and anxiety as well as promote relaxation by reducing heart rate and blood pressure.

Coastal Tea Tree is for maximum protection. The leptospermum laevigatum oil has potent anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. By protecting your body from infections, it also boosts your immune system and improves your skin!

Sydney Eucalyptus contains oil from the leaves of the native Australian eucalyptus piperita. It improves breathing by acting as a natural decongestant and relieving symptoms of sinus infection and bronchitis. It’s also protective with its anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.

Man wearing AirAus masks in Light Grey with two exhale valves. Image courtesy: AirAus
AirAus masks are highly breathable thanks to two exhale valves. Photo: AirAus

The masks are washable after each use and the filters are good for 100 hours or about 2 weeks each.

The three color options are subtle enough to look good with any wardrobe: Deep Black, Light Grey and Soft Blush. They come in three sizes and the aluminum nose clip ensures a perfect fit for any face.

Brothers Elias and Isaac Honor, alongside childhood friend Jack Graham have been working on this since 2017. The timing of their launch couldn’t be more perfect.