To prevent contact with pollen, it can become a necessity for those suffering from hay fever to use face masks. Fujitsu has commercialized a mask that absorbs and dissolves pollen using titanium apatite, which makes use of clean air to alleviate hay fever symptoms.
One in three Japanese people is allergic to pollen; use of photocatalytic technology for an anti-hay fever mask
Many people suffer from hay fever every spring. According to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, a nationwide survey targeting otolaryngologists and their families revealed that approximately 30% of respondents were allergic to pollen*. This result indicates that one in three Japanese people may suffer from hay fever.
Hay fever is believed to be caused by cedar pollen and other allergens inhaled mainly from the nose and mouth as well as by attachment of pollen to areas around the eyes or nasal cavity. Symptoms differ from one person to another, but they include itchy eyes, runny noses, and physical fatigue. One effective method used by many people to prevent such symptoms is to wear a mask.
In fact, Fujitsu’s photocatalytic technology is also used in an anti-hay fever mask. Working in collaboration with the University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST), Fujitsu has developed titanium apatite, a new photocatalytic material; this material is used in the anti-hay fever mask.
*Nationwide Epidemiological Survey on Nasal Allergies
Use of an antibacterial photocatalytic material for anti-hay fever mask
Why does Fujitsu use titanium apatite, a photocatalytic material, for an anti-hay fever mask? Calcium hydroxyapatite, a mineral found in teeth and bones, can absorb airborne bacteria and viruses. Further, when exposed to sunlight, photocatalytic materials break down organic matter (including bacteria, viruses, and dirt) into water and carbon dioxide. Therefore, Fujitsu concluded that providing the features of photocatalytic materials to calcium hydroxyapatite might enable bacteria and viruses absorbed with sunlight to be broken down—based on this reasoning, Fujitsu developed titanium apatite by substituting part of the calcium element of calcium hydroxyapatite with titanium ions. Originally, titanium apatite was developed as a material to provide photocatalytic effects for mobile phones and PCs. However, its capability to absorb and break down bacteria and viruses led us to believe that applying it to a mask would make the mask capable of absorbing and dissolving airborne pollen; thus, we employed this technology to develop an anti-hay fever mask.
Blocks 99.9% of pollen when exposed to UV light; where will photocatalytic technology be used next?
Titanium apatite, a new photocatalytic material developed jointly by Fujitsu and RCAST, far surpasses titanium oxide, the most commonly used photocatalytic material, in absorptive capability. It is capable of inactivating and removing 99.9% of hazardous substances in the air, including pollen, bacteria, and viruses.
In addition to anti-hay fever masks, titanium apatite can be used in a variety of products, such as air purifiers and air conditioner filters. In the future, Fujitsu will focus more on the antibacterial effects of photocatalytic materials and strive to commercialize products that can be used for a variety of purposes, including mobile phones, smartphones, and tablet devices, which were the original development targets, as well as computer keyboards, displays, and filters for large water purification facilities.