As many consumers seek quality masks amid the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, some sellers are advertising counterfeit N95 and KN95 masks that do not provide the standard level of filtration.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that well-fitted KN95s offer better protection against COVID-19 than cloth masks, and well-fitting approved respirators, such as N95s, offer the best protection.
Federal officials have released tips on how to know if a mask you're purchasing is legitimately approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH,) which is the certifying federal entity for the N95 Respirator Approval Program and only certifies products that meet certain regulatory standards.
"Counterfeit respirators are products that are falsely marketed and sold as being NIOSH-approved and may not be capable of providing appropriate respiratory protection to workers," NIOSH said.
According to officials, the following indicators may be a sign that a respirator could be counterfeit:
- No markings at all on the filtering facepiece respirator
- No approval (TC) number on filtering facepiece respirator or headband
- No NIOSH markings
- NIOSH spelled incorrectly
- Presence of decorative fabric or other decorative add-ons (e.g., sequins)
- Claims of approval for children (NIOSH does not approve any type of respiratory protection for children)
- Filtering facepiece respirator has ear loops instead of headbands
HealthDay also reported that the executive director of Project N95 said KN95 masks should have "GB 2626 - 2019" followed by a space and "K-N95" printed on them if they are made to the standard.
NIOSH provided photos of known counterfeit products here.
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