Economy

India's Air pollution inspires Swedish Start-up to make hi-tech Mask

INDIA-INSPIRED: The idea evolved when Airinum’s co-founder Hjertström’s asthma symptoms resurfaced in India. File photo   | Photo Credit: V. Sudershan

Spurred by India’s persistent problem of air pollution, a Swedish healthcare start-up, Airinum, has come up with a hi-tech mask to protect people from air contamination. It is now launching its first product called ‘urban breathing mask’ worldwide. The company said that the next generation anti-pollution mask comes with a Scandinavian design and consists of a cutting-edge filter technology.

Airinum co-founder Fredrik Kempe said that it would tap India and other markets by launching an online store that can ship globally. “We will see where we get traction and then focus our marketing and sales effort into a few selected urban cities,” said Mr. Kempe.

More deaths

In an alarming assessment by the Global Burden of Disease project, India has overtaken China in the number of deaths due to ambient (outdoor) air pollution, in 2015, according to a statement by Greenpeace. Recent data showed that in 2015, India witnessed 3,283 premature deaths per day, whereas China had 3,233 deaths.

The idea behind Airinum started when co-founder Alexander Hjertström moved from Sweden to India to pursue an exchange semester at IIM-Ahmedabad. Shortly after his arrival, his long-gone asthma symptoms started to resurface. After searching for means to protect himself, he discovered that the pollution masks available were far from something he would like to wear himself.

“I simply couldn’t find a mask I would like to wear,” said Alexander Hjertström, chief executive of Airinum. Mr. Hjertström said that he only found industrial respirators that had good protection but were extremely uncomfortable to wear, or poorly protective masks with flamboyant designs. With this new insight in mind, Mr..Hjertström partnered up with co-founders Fredrik Kempe, Johannes Herrmann and Mehdi Rejraji to develop the mask for urban citizens. Now, after months of development and high demand on pre-orders, the company is opening up their online store for sales worldwide.

Mr. Kempe said that the masks available in the market lack proper filter technology and didn’t fit properly on the face. He said that Airinum's mask uses a triple filter technology that has been tested in Sweden in collaboration with Camfil, a global leader in the air filter industry. Airinum has priced the product at $75. It also includes accessories such as mask skin, changeable filters, head strap and a storage bag.

The company said the average adult breathes 11,000 litres of air a day and most people will never reflect on what they actually breathe. According to a research by the World Health Organization in collaboration with the University of Bath, 92 per cent of the world’s population lives in places where air quality levels exceed WHO limits. This means about 18,000 premature deaths per day as a result of global air pollution. Airinum said that makes it a much greater issue than the number of people that die from AIDS, tuberculosis and road injuries, combined.


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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 3:11:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/Economy/Indias-Air-pollution-inspires-Swedish-Start-up-to-make-hi-tech-Mask/article16731679.ece

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