Honeywell International Inc. is expanding global production of N95 medical masks in response to the coronavirus crisis.
Charlotte, N.C.-based Honeywell has begun a major expansion of mask production at a plant in Smithfield, R.I. The firm expects a new mask production line in Smithfield to create at least 500 jobs. Recruiting, hiring and training manufacturing workers will begin immediately.
N95 masks have several plastic components, including polypropylene fiber mesh.
"We are honored to support the U.S. government's efforts to protect Americans with personal protective equipment made right here in the United States," Chairman and CEO Darius Adamczyk said in a March 22 news release.
"Our Rhode Island facility already produces industry-leading safety gear and soon will play a critical role in supplying the Strategic National Stockpile with N95 masks," he added.
Masks made in Smithfield will be delivered to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for use to support health, safety and emergency response workers. N95 respirators are tight-fitting respirators that filter out at least 95 percent of particles in the air, including large and small particles.
The masks provide respiratory protection and reduce the wearer's exposure to airborne particles, from small particle aerosols to large droplets. Honeywell also has increased production of the masks at other manufacturing sites around the world.
Honeywell provides materials and products to multiple end markets, including aerospace, industrial, manufacturing and retail. The firm posted sales of $36.7 billion in 2019.