Counterfeit respirators are products that have been falsely advertised as NIOSH-approved and then sold as such. They might not offer the proper level of protection for workers. If we are aware of counterfeit respirators or those that falsely claim NIOSH approval, we will publish them here.
Signs that your respirator may be counterfeit
- There are no markings on the filtering facepiece respirator
- No approval number (TC), on the filtering facepiece respirator or headband
- There are no NIOSH markings
- NIOSH misspelled
- Prevalence of decorative fabrics and other decorative add-ons, e.g. sequins).
- The NIOSH does not approve children’s respiratory protection.
- Ear loops are used to filter the facepiece respirator rather than headbands
Over 11,000,000 3M N95 masks were seized by the Department of Homeland Security in recent weeks. These masks were taken from healthcare workers using N95 respirators to stop them getting infected or transmitting the corona virus.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends N95 masks should be reserved for first responders and healthcare workers. Most people now purchase N95 masks for personal use. The N95 mask filters 95% all airborne particles when it is properly fitted.
Healthcare workers and the general population could accidentally use many of the fake N95 masks on the market. This could give the illusion of security.
How to recognize a fake N95 respirator?
Be aware of the markings on your face
The markings on an N95 respirator are important. Blank N95s indicate that the mask may not be authentic. Check that the mask has the acronym “NIOSH” in block letters. This signifies that the mask has been approved by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Be sure to spell NIOSH correctly
The brand name should be clearly printed on the mask (e.g. The brand name should be clearly printed on the mask (e.g. 3M), registered trademarks or easily understood abbreviations. You can search the CDC’s Index to verify that NIOSH has approved the brand name. In some cases, brands might misrepresent NIOSH approval.
The mask should include a testing and certification code. This code should be followed by a numerical code. The mask must also contain the following numbers: N, P or R filter class, efficiency 95, 99, 100. Although some masks may not require an alphanumerical model number, it is recommended.
Look at how it locks onto your face
N95 respirators come with two bands that wrap around your neck and back. This creates a tight seal around the nose and mouth. An N95 respirator is not a mask that has ear loops and not headbands.
Do they have a bad reputation?
Be careful when you buy an N95 respirator online or through a third-party marketplace like Amazon.
The CDC recommends that you research the seller’s history and review their customer reviews before purchasing. Price fluctuation and deviations can be “too good to be true”. According to the CDC misleading marketing terms such as “legitimate”, “genuine” and other phrases are quite common.
Look out for spelling errors, poor grammar, pages that aren’t finished or broken links. These are signs that the website may be fake.