An ex-Apple designer’s lifehack lets doctors make surgical masks safer and better

A few months ago Sabrina Paseman was working as a mechanical engineer for Apple. It’s safe to say that this pandemic changed the course of her life, at least professionally. Teaming up with ex-Apple marketer Megan Duong, Paseman decided to bring her creative skills over to a domain that really needed it. Together, the duo formed Fix The Mask, a project that helps make surgical masks fit better and perform better as a result. The idea for a DIY hack came to Paseman around the time when the country was facing a severe shortage of N95 masks, forcing doctors and nurses to wear readily available loosely-fitted surgical masks. Paseman first tried scouting her area for N95 masks, hoping to donate them to medical facilities, and when she couldn’t find any N95 masks available in her vicinity, she decided to create a life-saving lifehack to make standard surgical masks more functional by ensuring a tighter seal/fit. The solution? A simple DIY seal that closes all air gaps around your nose and mouth so there’s no air leakage anywhere caused by a loosely fitted mask.

Paseman and Duong’s first iteration of the Fix The Mask solution involved the MacGyverian use of a handful of rubber bands that could be strung together to create a tight brace to secure the mask’s fit (video at the end of the article). A few iterations later, the two developed a more robust solution by cutting into rubber sheets to create a better, more effective harness. The harness design is available on the Fix The Mask website as a free resource, to allow health professionals and regular citizens to get the most out of their face-gear while remaining safe from the virus.

[Update: The material for ASTM-rated surgical masks — the same basic material as an N95 mask — is proven to filter out most particles as tiny as 0.1 microns, so if it fits as tightly as an N95 mask, it should be able to perform as well. The team has already worked with medical school researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Iowa to validate that the modified masks can fit as tightly as properly fitted N95 masks.] via Fast Company.

Designers: Sabrina Paseman & Megan Duong (Fix The Mask)