Richard Gordon and his family relocated from the USA to Suzhou, China in 2011 so that his wife Min Xiao could pursue her career and their son could learn Chinese.
Suzhou, a 2,500-year city, was transforming into a modern metropolis. A subway system was dug beneath the ancient canals. Glass skyscrapers and apartment blocks leaped into the sky in the fertile fields beyond the old city's stone gates.
However, as the buildings went up, air quality fell. The sky turned a leaden gray with dust, diesel exhaust, and industrial air pollution. Particulates rained from the sky, coating clean floors black with soot in a single day.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that hazardous air is linked to six of the world's top-10 killer diseases and reduces life-expectancy by as many as 6 years in heavily polluted mega cities.
From 2011 to 2014, Richard's family experienced continuous, hazardous PM2.5 air pollution from which there was no escape, not even indoors. With his knowledge of how air pollution affected children, Richard searched for an N95 respirator that would fit his son and turned up... empty-handed.
He knew he had to do something.
Richard is an engineer and entrepreneur. He started hacking respirators.
He knew that a mask wouldn't protect unless it fitted well to make a tight edge seal. He knew that an anti-air-pollution, anti-viral mask would have to filter at least 95% of PM2.5. From wearing one daily over those years, he knew that breathability was key to comfort, that the N95 respirators on the market got hot, fogged glasses, hurt and fell off noses, irritated skin, reduced speech intelligibility, got stinky fast, made a lot of waste, and didn't fit after a couple of wearing because the nose wire got kinked and head-straps break.
By the time he and his family returned to the United States in 2014, Richard's notebook brimmed with respirator ideas. He connected with advanced-materials suppliers and brainstormed with colleagues and contractors.
Getting to the production Airgami design was a multi-year, pre-COVID-19 challenge that involved meticulous design, hundreds of prototypes, relentless testing, and a dash of good luck. Even today, our efforts continue to focus on making Airgami better.
Airgami is patented and manufactured in the USA. Airgami passed Nelson Labs tests according to 42 CFR Part 84. Additionally, Airgami was fit-tested in-house, and independently tested by the world's famous Mask Nerd.
The filter in Airgami is capable of blocking non-oil aerosols and droplets, wildfire smoke, air pollution, dust, and pollen. Airgami can be reused and heat disinfected. Breathability, comfort, and style are best-in-class.
Airgami has accumulated multiple awards including the BARDA Mask Innovation Challenge Phase 1 and Phase 2 and the Good Design Award.
Most importantly, Airgami has helped tens of thousands of users stay safe and healthy as they confront multiple airborne hazards. Thank you for taking us along on your journey. Be well!
All images Copyright © 2020 Richard Gordon.