Risks and Science

1. What are the risks of breathing through Swiffer® sheets?
As per P&G, respiratory face masks are “not the intended use” of Swiffer® sheets. We looked at the risks of inhaling two Swiffer® sheet components:
(A) nonwoven material; and
(B) chemical additives.
     (A) Nonwoven material is the key component of N95 masks, KN95 masks, surgical masks, etc. So this material itself is probably safe.
     (B) P&G’s exact additives, which include some type of “wax,” are trade secrets. Here are some clues:
1. The MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for Swiffer® wipes mentions paraffin. As per Wikipedia, paraffin wax can be used to coat candy corn. So it is probably safe.
2. US Patent # 8,536,074 (to P&G) mentions “mineral oil and microcrystalline wax.” Mineral oil is used in laxatives and in skin care, including baby care. Microcrystalline wax is used in candles as well as in petrolatum for application to the skin (e.g. petroleum jelly, used for diaper rashes). Both of these items are probably safe.
Still, regarding use of the UnSewn™ Mask, we have to tell you: “USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.” More research in this area may be warranted.
2. If our mask is NOT made with N95 material, how does it filter so well?
N95 material was developed to protect industrial workers under “worst-case” scenarios: to block very fine particles, such as industrially-produced dust, under very high air-flow rates used in maximally heavy breathing. As a result, N95 material is difficult to breathe through. The problem is that air travels the path of least resistance. Air will prefer to go through even a small gap around the edge of an N95 mask, rather than through the mask itself. A user can easily inhale a lot of unfiltered air while wearing the N95 mask.
We designed the UnSewn™ mask to (A) fit closely to the face of all users and to leave no gaps, and (B) to be easy to breathe through. It is not designed for heavy industrial use, but rather for light to moderate indoor work. When a user inhales, the air has no problem going in directly through the UnSewn™ mask, rather than through a gap, and the air is thus filtered before it gets to the user. In addition to our own 40-Second Fit-Factor testing, in which our mask outperformed N95 earloop masks, an aerosol filtration scientist tested our materials in a laboratory for both filtration efficiency and ease-of-breathing, and his findings allowed us to conclude that our results are indeed valid.
We greatly appreciate the input of our aerosol scientist-collaborator. We will be providing a link to any publications in which he references this project or provides project-specific data.