Officials issue warning about potential counterfeit N95, KN95 masks on the market
People are looking to further protect themselves from COVID-19 as another surge of the virus hits the nation. For many, this means looking for masks like N95s. But officials warn that there are some counterfeit ones out on the market.
"I did see a mask that was claimed to be [National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health] approved but only said N95 and there was no NIOSH, no TC Number,” says Kelly Carothers, director of government affairs with the nonprofit Project N95.
The NIOSH is in charge of setting the standards and approving companies to manufacture N95 masks.
Carothers says that one easy way to spot a counterfeit mask is to see how the mask attaches to one’s face. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a NIOSH-approved N95 mask will always have headbands, not ear loops.
Fake N95 masks may also lack markings on the facepiece, won’t have a TC number and the word NIOSH may be missing or spelled incorrectly.
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The CDC website shows plenty of counterfeit masks and says that any NIOSH N95 masks marketed for children are also fake.
But what about KN95 masks?
“There is no KN95 certification. It is a standard set by China that manufacturers self-certify to, how they’re supposed to adhere to these set of standards,” Carothers says.
She says to look for similar markings that will start with the letters GBGB and will have either 2006 or 2019 on them. She also says to make your best judgment call.
“If you find a KN95 with those three markings, it’s a good chance that it adheres to the standards set forth by the Chinese government,” she says.
Project N95 also says that consumers should check the expiration date on the box before purchasing a mask. N95 masks are usually good for five years, whereas KN95 masks are only good for two or three years.