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Japanese company makes a $600 men's suit said to ward off H1N1

New York Daily News — October 14, 2009

A new men's business suit is nothing to sneeze at.

Japanese menswear company Haruyama Trading is offering a special anti-H1N1 suit that is said to protect wearers from the virus. The sartorial solution to the flu, reports Reuters, costs around $590. The suit is coated with titanium dioxide, a chemical found in toothpaste and cosmetics, which kills the H1N1 virus on contact, according to the company.

Harumaya's vice director of merchandising, Shinto Hirata, told Reuters that the suit kills 40 percent of the virus in three hours — and retains its ability to protect the wearer even after the clothing has been washed several times.

"If a person with the flu virus coughs, it might get on someone else's suit and from there, another person might get infected," Hirata told Reuters Television. "Small children might catch the virus after touching their father's suit. We came up with this idea to protect all businessmen and their families."

Several companies collaborated on the design of the suit, including Haruyama and Gaea, a firm that specializes in antibacterial coatings, according to Reuters.

"I bought this suit to protect my newborn baby at home," Japanese businessman Eiji Hiratsuka told Reuters. "My wife is worried about the swine flu as well."

Though it supposedly offers some serious anti-viral protection, the suit looks quite similar to others worn by Japanese white–collar workers, according to Reuters. For the choosy dresser, it's available in four styles and colors.

So is it worth the money? "The suit could provide some small benefit," says infectious disease expert and influenza researcher Dr. Joan Nichols, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch. "If someone with H1N1 coughed and had the virus on their hands and touched the suit, and you didn't touch the suit, some virus would die off. But it takes awhile for the anti-microbial properties of titanium dioxide to work."

Parting with $600 for a protective suit isn't worth the money, Nichols says. "You'd be better off to invest $1.30 on a bottle of hand sanitizer and to wash your hands often," she advised.

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