A Rio Rancho small business is developing an anti-viral mask, pending U.S. Food and Drug Administration certification.
Green Theme Technologies Inc. owner Gary S. Selwyn has a doctorate in chemistry. He has developed a treatment and process that can infuse a mask with anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.
This formula has undergone testing at the University of New Mexico and at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Testing reflects that Selwyn’s treatment, when applied to a mask, can kill the virus that causes COVID-19. Testing at Los Alamos lab indicates the treatment was also anti-bacterial.
Selwyn is taking the next steps to get the treated mask FDA certified, so he can legally say it is an anti-viral mask.
The certification process can take 70-100 days, he said. Selwyn is submitting the form to begin the process before Thanksgiving, he said.
Green Theme Technologies hopes to launch the product commercially with a health claim in the spring.
If a vaccine comes before the spring, COVID-19 or not, Selwyn said there is still a need for a mask like his.
“If the COVID situation goes away, we are fine with that. We are not trying to capitalize on it. We are trying to provide a solution in the interim. And there is a lot of bureaucracy that gets in the way,” he said.
The company is preparing for the production of the anti-bacterial material at its Rio Rancho location on Jackie Road and at a facility in Taiwan, he said.
The treatment being applied to masks includes known disinfectants, Selwyn said.
Thymol, a natural oil from the thyme herb, and a quaternary ammonium compound, also known as quats, are used in fabric softeners and detergents.
“What the quats do to the virus is they dissolve the membrane around the genome, and quats are just incredibly effective detergents to do that,” he said. “It is what’s called an emulsifier, and the quat and the thymol work together and have a synergistic effect.”
The treated disposable surgical masks will cost around 35 cents each, and cloth masks treated with the chemical compound will be cost-competitive, although he didn’t have an exact price, Selwyn said.
The treatment is applied to the outside of the mask and is safe to wear, he said. The cloth masks will maintain effectiveness up to 10 washes, Selwyn said.
The end goal for Selwyn is to make masks more effective and to make them more pleasant to wear, he said. Selwyn added essential oils to make scented masks; there are also unscented masks.
“What we are trying to do with these scented masks is reduce the negativity associated with wearing a mask, and there are some people who object to this more than others because it doesn’t feel comfortable. The scenting and the essential oils that we put in, we know that doesn’t reduce the effectiveness, but it may reduce the negativity associated with it, by making the mask more pleasant to wear,” Selwyn said.