How to spot a fake N95 or KN95 mask

Lack of oversight makes mask market dangerous
Virus Outbreak Washington
Posted at 7:18 PM, Jan 18, 2022

With demand higher than ever, counterfeit N95 and KN95 masks are taking up 60 percent of the market, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The masks have been in high demand since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the emergence of the highly-contagious Omicron variant, finding an actual N95 or KN95 masks has become more difficult.

"It's an incredibly difficult market for consumers to navigate," Kelly Carothers, Government Affairs Director for Project N95, said. "There are hundreds of millions of these masks on the market in America right now that have no oversight. It's very dangerous."

To avoid buying counterfeit masks, here are guidelines from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Requirements.

  • N95 masks should have an NIOSH approval label, which stands for National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Requirements. China approves KN95 masks and won't have an NIOSH label.
  • N95 or KN95 masks should not have decorative fabric or add ons.
  • The mask should have head bands and not ear loops.
  • If the mask has no markings, it is likely fake.
  • Inspect the sale listing for typos, bad grammar and whether or not it takes you to the company websites. Those potential issues would identify a fake mask.

President Biden announced on Thursday, Jan. 13 plans to make 'high-quality masks" available to every American for free and would order an additional 500 million COVID-19 tests.

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