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Counterfeit N95 Masks are Surging in the Market - How to Know If yours is Original or Fake?

Health By Ayush


In recent weeks, the Department of Homeland Security has seized more than 11 million counterfeit 3M N95. The masks that have been confiscated were headed for frontline workers who count on N95 respirators to shield them from catching infection and transmitting the coronavirus while interacting with Covid patients.

Centers for Disease Control emphasizes on reserving N95 masks for medical first responders and frontline healthcare workers. But, the general public is buying these masks for personal use. N95 masks provide a seal that filters 95% airborne particles (it must be fitted properly). Due to the availability of so many counterfeit N95 masks on the market, both the general public and healthcare workers may get a false sense of being secure. 

How to know, if the N95 mask is the fake one: 

Analyze markings on the mask 

A key to check its originality is the marking on the outside of N95 respirators. A blank mask without any matter/logo, etc is an inauthentic one. It must have an acronym in block letters or “NIOSH” logo that indicates that it has got the approval from National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, as per CDC. Make sure NIOSH has been spelled correctly, if it is not then don’t go for it. 

The name of the brand manufacturer (for instance, 3M), easy to comprehend abbreviations and registered trademark must be printed on the mask clearly. If you want to search for the brand name, check it on the CDC’s index to ensure that it has got approval by NIOSH. It must not misrepresent NIOSH approval. 

The mask also should have certification and testing code that has been followed as per “TC” by a numerical code. The filter class may include other numbers for filter class (a letter : R, N, or P) and efficiency (100, 99, or 95), for example, “N95”. It must have an alphanumeric model printed on the mask and it is recommended to have the lot number (though some masks might not have). 

How secure it is on your face!

N95 masks come with two bands one fits around the neck and the second is back on the head to ensure a protection seal around the mouth and nose. If a respirator has ear loops in place of headbands, then it is not a real N95.

Whether the retailer is scrappy? 

You need to remain extra careful if you are buying the mask from a third-party marketplace. The CDC suggests 

that you must inquire about the seller’s reviews and history before buying. Keep an eye on the fake reviews that are too good to be believed. Check the bad grammar, spelling errors, broken links, unfinished pages that may give you an idea of a fake website. Buying a mask directly from a NIOSH approved manufacturer is great to get a real N95 respirator. 

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