This Clip-On Mask Is Apparently More Effective Than Surgical Masks At Busting Viruses, But It’s Currently Sold Out

The EA Mask and EA Bear from Japanese company ECOM are sold out in the wake of the Wuhan Virus outbreak and are available for pre-order.

Update: Since publishing this story on Jan 30, we’ve received some comments about the EA Mask and EA Bear’s claims of being able to protect the wearer against viruses, and questions about claims that the products can provide a 1m radius of protection for the wearer against bacteria, fungi and viruses.

We decided to speak to a medical doctor about these claims, and these are the comments of Dr Dana Elliott Srither, Doctor & Co-founder of Rxemedium.io (Telemedicine). His main concern was that on the Japanese website of ECOM, the brand which makes the products, there was no test data about the effectiveness of the products on viruses. He tells us, “There was a page where it showed the effectiveness of chlorine dioxide [the main germ-busting ingredient in the EA Mask and EA Bear] against fungi and bacteria, but there was no listing of viruses. The website stated that the products were effective against viruses, but I didn’t see any virus listing in the test.”

As for concerns about chlorine dioxide being ineffective as a disinfectant at low concentrations, and that chlorinated compounds can be hazardous at high concentrations, Dr Elliott says, “They show two concentrations of chlorine dioxide in their tests. Whether the [EA Mask and EA Bear] products emit either of those concentrations is unclear.” The company says the products are safe for babies and pregnant women. Says Dr Elliott, “We would not know the concentrations of the ingredients unless the product is tested in an independent lab.”

As for whether the EA Mask and EA Bear are more effective than surgical masks at busting viruses, things are also up in the air, so to speak. Dr Elliott says, “I would consider that [wearing the EA Mask and EA Bear] gives people a false sense of security. This is true even for those who wear surgical masks and are well. The masks are meant to be worn by those who are sick. If person is well, and he wears a surgical mask for protection against a sick person, whether he contracts the virus or not also depends on whether he removes the mask properly. Healthcare workers are taught how to remove masks, goggles and gowns in a proper manner. If a well user comes in contact with sick person and gets droplets on his mask, and removes it improperly, he can also be infected. Even if someone is wearing a mask but not goggles and comes into close contact with a sick person, he can get infected via the eyes.”

As for the EA Mask and EA Bear’s claims of being able to create a protective radius of 1m around the wearer, Dr Elliott says, “[The device] can’t pulverise water droplets. If a person is right in front of you and water droplets travel from the sick person directly into the mouth, nostrils or eyes of the user [of the EA products], there is nothing you can do.”

Like we’ve mentioned before, whatever ways or products you choose to protect yourself and your loved ones, stay safe, don’t panic, and follow the measures laid out by the Ministry of Health.

(Updated on Feb 1, 2020)

It’s now near impossible to find surgical masks in Singapore (Are people hoarding masks or sweeping up more than they need?!? But thanks to the government for the offer of free masks), and hand sanitisers, anti-bacterial washes and disinfectants have been wiped clean off the shelves (pardon the pun). It feels like doomsday. And if you have kids like one of us here at 8days.sg, things are even harder — kids’ surgical masks are even more difficult to procure, and even if you get some, it’s tough to make the little ones wear their masks properly or to keep them on, or to avoid touching surfaces and their faces and mouths.

ea singapore ea mask
The EA Mask, $16.50. It's currently sold out, with restocks expected in three to four weeks.

So when we saw these clip-on masks called EA Masks from a Japanese company called ECOM, which specialises in air purifier and anti-bacterial products, we jumped. We received a bunch of products from Mamoru Marketing, the Singapore company which distributes ECOM products, back in December, when they first launched in Singapore, and when the world wasn’t on the cusp of a coronavirus pandemic. Back then, we were fascinated by the EA Mask and the EA Bear, $16.50 each. The EA Mask (EA stands for "ECOM Air") is a clip-on badge that attaches to clothes and bags, and protects you from bacteria and viruses for a 1m radius around your body. The EA Bear is a flat card that comes with a lanyard which you can wear around your neck. Both items degerm, deodorise and remove formaldehyde in the area around the wearer, eradicates sweat and body odour, as well as any odours from smoke or food. In the press materials, it says that the two products work better than surgical face masks.

ecom singapore ea bear
The EA Bear, $16.50, a wearable germ-busting product which comes with a lanyard.

A spokesperson from Mamoru Marketing told 8days.sg, “The EA Mask and EA Bear release chlorine dioxide molecules [classified by the World Health Organisation as an A1 disinfectant, and known for its effectiveness as an oxidising agent] into the air, and as a result, provides a three-dimensional cover around the body. On the other hand, a surgical mask only seals the face, and protects the wearer from inhaling airborne bacteria.”

Before the Wuhan virus outbreak, these products were great to have, as we clipped them on our kids’ shirts and worried a little less about HFMD and the common flu. While the kids would refuse to wear face masks or fiddle with them, the clips stayed on their clothes and they forgot all about them. But now, with masks in short supply and a country stricken with fear of a rapidly-spreading coronavirus, these air purifying products are suddenly more precious than ang pows filled with money. The effects of the EA Mask and EA Bear only last a month, and our month was up (we cracked open the products in late December). We went onto ECOM’s local online retailers Lazada, Shopee and Qoo10, and phew — there were stocks, unlike face masks on the websites of local pharmacies like Guardian and Watsons. And because Mamoru Marketing is a local company with ready stocks to send out, the products will reach us in a few days, unlike the weeks it might take if you order face masks to be flown in from Korea or Japan. We hurriedly added to cart two EA Masks for our two kids, deciding not to buy too many so that there would be enough left for other families with kids.

ea mask
An EA Mask bundle sold on Lazada for $33.80. You get an EA mask and an ECOM car, which removes bacteria, odours and formaldehyde from your car. This is currently sold out and will similarly be restocked in three to four weeks. 

We also shared with our friends and family about the existence of this innovative “mask”, as many were having difficulty buying kids’ masks. When we checked the websites retailing ECOM products a few hours later, the individual clips had sold out, leaving only bundles that came with the clips as well as other ECOM products like personal air purifiers and products to degerm your car, closets and fridges (which are of course also very useful). People boasted on social media that they had swept 10 or 15 bundles of ECOM products (Do you really need so many? Or are you hoarding and/or re-selling?!?), and by the next morning, the products were all sold out.

According to Mamoru Marketing, they are trying their best to restock and should have new stocks in three to four weeks. Pre-order reservations can be made at enquiries@ecomsingapore.sg. A few people we told about this product were skeptical — how can a small clip-on badge protect you from bacteria and viruses better than a physical mask? What about if someone with a virus sneezes right next to you and the droplets land on your face? Surely a surgical mask would protect you better than an invisible barrier?

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A screen cap from a video on the Ecom Singapore website explaining how the EA Mask works.

We’re not sure exactly how effective this is either, but the science seems to say that the EA Mask and EA Bear can neutralise the bacteria and viruses in the air around the wearer, so even if droplets land, the nasties are quickly destroyed. A video on the Ecom Singapore website says the chlorine dioxide in the products can kill up to 99.9 per cent of viruses, germs and fungi within a 1m distance, and is safe for anyone to wear, including babies and pregnant women.

Whether you choose the EA Mask to protect yourself and your loved ones or believe in the surgical masks, stay safe, everyone.

More info at https://www.ecomsingapore.sg.

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