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Burnaby N95 mask maker the first for Health Canada authorization

One of the masks that is manufactured in Burnaby. Contributed photo

Burnaby’s Vitacore Industries Inc. has become the first Canadian company to receive Health Canada authorization to produce N95-equivalent respirators on home soil.

The Health Canada authorization, granted in August 2020, makes the company's CAN95 the first and only medical-grade respirator manufactured in Canada.

Vitacore said it partnered with McMaster University to develop this Canadian N95-equivalent respirator with testing completed by the National Research Council of Canada.

Its single-use fold CAN95 respirators have tested at a higher average particle filtration efficiency than the N95 standard, said the company. Vitacore is also the first company in Canada with an integrated facility producing raw materials and finished products.

"We are proud to be the first and only Canadian company authorized by Health Canada to produce our CAN95 respirators," said Mikhail Moore, president of Vitacore. "When COVID-19 hit, we saw the need to ensure that our communities, particularly frontline workers, have a consistent high-quality supply of PPE throughout the pandemic and beyond. Our mission and commitment is to homegrown innovation that protects Canadians, allows our country to be self-sustaining, and creates local jobs."

Vitacore was born in Canada to support Canadian health-care professionals during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Helmed by local business leaders, the privately-held company has quickly grown to a team of 35 employees including engineers and medical professionals at its facility in Burnaby. In addition to the CAN95 respirators, Vitacore also produces additional personal protective equipment including ASTM surgical masks for adults (levels 1, 2, and 3) and the ASTM L1 children's masks.

Researchers at McMaster's Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment Materials (CEPEM) provided expertise to develop the fabric, determine the best machines for production and test the efficacy of the mask's filtration. Additional testing was conducted using scanning electron microscopes at the Canadian Centre for Electron Microscopy (CCEM) at McMaster University.

"At McMaster's Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials, we are dedicated to helping Canadian companies to advance PPE products, both to meet immediate needs and to develop the next generation of cutting-edge products," said Ravi Selvaganapathy, CEPEM's director and the Canada Research Chair in Biomicrofluidics. "The CAN95 respirator is one story of success. We look forward to partnering with more innovative companies like Vitacore to establish Canada as a global leader in PPE research, development and manufacturing."

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