Airgami Story

Tiger Hill Pagoda Suzhou China

Richard Gordon and his family relocated from the USA to Suzhou, China in 2011 so that his wife could pursue her career and his 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.

But 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 windows black with soot in a single day.

Hazardous Air

WHO reports that hazardous air is linked to six of the world's top-10 killer diseases and reduces life-expectancy by as much as 6 years in heavily polluted mega cities.

Between 2012 and 2014, Richard's family experienced continuous weeks of hazardous PM2.5 air pollution from which there was no escape, even indoors. With his knowledge of how air pollution affects children and seniors more than healthy adults, Richard searched for an N95 respirator that would fit his son and turned up ... empty-handed.

He knew he had to do something.

Hacking Respirators

Richard is an experienced engineer and entrepreneur. He started hacking respirators.

He knew that a mask doesn't protect unless it fits well and make a tight edge seal to keep out bad air. He knew that an air pollution or anti-viral, anti-tuberculosis mask must filter at least 95% of PM2.5. From wearing one almost daily for years, he knew that breathability is key to comfort. That N95 respirators get hot, fog glasses, hurt and fall off noses, irritate the skin, reduce speech intelligibility, get stinky fast, make a lot of waste, and don't fit after a couple of wearings because the nose wire gets kinked and head-straps break.

Airgami Invention

By the time he and his family returned to the United States in 2014, Richard's lab 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 even better.


Airgami is patented and manufactured in the USA. Airgami passed NIOSH N95 pre-certification tests as performed by Nelson Labs, our in-house testing by Air99, and testing by the world's famous Mask Nerd.

Airgami protects against infected aerosols and droplets, wildfire smoke, air pollution, dust, and pollen, and can be reused and heat disinfected multiple times while maintaining its efficacy. Breathability, comfort, and style are best-in-class.

Airgami has accumulated several awards including, most recently, winning the BARDA/NIOSH Mask Innovation Challenge Phase 1 and the Good Design Award design competitions.

Most important, Airgami has helped thousands of users stay safe and healthy as they confront multiple airborne hazards. Thank you for taking us along on your journey, even if only for a short while. Be well!

All images Copyright © 2020 Richard Gordon.