Seattle, WA --- Puraka Pollution Masks, a Seattle-based startup, is taking a hi-tech approach to clean air. When local air pollution reaches unsafe levels, its customers receive an early-morning SMS alert - called a Smoke Signal - reminding them to wear a pollution mask when going outside. Using proprietary algorithms, the company tracks how often its customers should be using their masks, accounting for factors like age, health status and local air quality. If stock gets low, Puraka sends a new shipment of pm2.5 filters directly to the subscriber’s home, with a guarantee that the customer will always have filters on hand during wildfire season and beyond.
“During the wildfires last summer around Seattle, my first clue the air was unhealthy was this feeling like I was having a heart attack,” says Aaron Ansel, Puraka’s co-founder. Ansel, who designed the algorithms to track its customers’ individualized profiles, is familiar with the dangers of poor air quality, having battled asthma most of his life. “A lot of people should be checking the AQI daily, but most people don’t,” he says. “So we take care of that for you.”
Unlike other entrants into the emerging pollution mask space, Puraka is focusing on function, not fashion. The pm 2.5 filters provide EPA-recommended protection, but the masks are made of cotton, not plastic, with plain designs for adults and panda-themed masks for children. “We’re not trying to make pollution masks super cool”, Ansel says. “We’re trying to make wildfire smoke something you don’t have to worry about for yourself, your children, or your parents.”
Andrew Enke, also a co-founder, explains how the company uses its fulfillment network to ensure its customers have high-quality filters when they need them. “When a customer signs up, we send them a pollution mask and some extra filters. Then, let’s say they have young children, as soon as the air quality becomes unhealthy for sensitive groups, we’ll ship them child-sized filters from our nearest fulfillment center, so they always have replacements available.”
In addition to the tech, the other noteworthy aspect of the service is the price. Puraka’s annual subscription is just $2 per month, plus $1 per family member. This includes individualized Smoke Screen alerts, automated filter tracking, and N95-equivalent filters delivered as often as needed... a small price to pay for increasingly necessary protection.
Puraka’s N95 filter subscription service launched in June, 2019. The company also offers a free collection of wildfire planning checklists, air quality data and other resources.