Counterfeit N95 masks manufactured in China have been a problem since May. The market is flooded with them now, including Amazon. Millions of counterfeit N95 masks were purchased by 5 states. I don’t know if they checked the FDA EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) list or the CDCs list of NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) approved manufacturers to see if they were legitimate before purchasing them.
At the same time, small manufacturers can’t sell their inventory due to the “ingrained purchasing habits of hospital systems, medical supply distributors and state governments”. Can’t Find an N95 Mask? This Company Has 30 Million That It Can’t Sell. I have been reading about this problem since May.
What is NOISH?
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. The N95 masks in this post are approved and regulated by NIOSH and have been in use for decades. About NIOSH from CDC website.
Relevant links from This Blog – lots of detailed information
- KN94, KN95 and Elastomeric Respirators: What and Where to Buy February 4, 2021
- Surgical and Cloth Face Masks – What to Buy and Where to Purchase February 4, 202
KN94 and KN95 masks – my experience
I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to purchase KN94 and KN95 masks. See my post link above. The FDA list was difficult to use. There were way too many on Amazon. Too hard to tell which ones were okay. I purchased KN95s (Chinese) and K94s (Korean) on the FDA list. But, they had ear loops, only one size and some stitching errors. They were inferior to my old N95 masks with valves.
Why I purchased N95 masks
I have been using good quality cloth masks as I work at home and don’t go out much. On February 18, 2021, I received my second Moderna dose. My worst fear has always been infecting someone else and they got very sick. I wanted to be safer. I was very, very lucky to be vaccinated and can’t forget about all the people at higher risk than myself. A friend called the the second day to tell me that vaccine appointments were available by phone with my health care provider. I called immediately. Within a few days, the phone lines were down and you would have to wait for them to call you. Many are still waiting.
I am at high risk: 77 with Type II diabetes and am a real estate appraiser, but have not done an appraisal since last February. Appraisers go into homes and apartments: very high risk. I have been writing about face masks in my appraisal newsletters since last March. I switched to this blog last August.
I want to start appraising again and needed more protection. I was uncomfortable using the KN94 and KN95 masks as I could not be sure they were not counterfeit. Their quality of construction was inferior to my old N95 masks with ventilators. They had ear loops and usually only came in one size.
What to look for in N95 masks
1. Different sizes
2. Loops behind your head. No ear loops
3. Good nose bridge bar
4. MUST fit your face with minimal leaking. Do a leak test
You may need to try a few brands, or sizes, so purchase a small quantity if possible.
Facial hair can be a big problem with fitting these masks
To Beard or not to Beard? That’s a good Question! has a graphic of 36 facial hair styles, both ok and not ok I had not seen some of the styles and had never heard most of the names! Source: CDC
Proper N95 Respirator Use for Respiratory Protection Preparedness From CDC very good graphics and links. Use this link. Source: CDC
Three key criteria are required for respirators to be effective
1. The respirator filter needs to be highly effective at capturing particles that pass through it,
2. The respirator must fit the user’s face snugly (i.e., create a seal) to minimize the number of particles that bypass the filter through gaps between the user’s skin and the respirator seal; and
3 . The respirator must be put on (donned) and taken off (doffed) correctly before and worn throughout the exposure.
N95 Face masks I recently purchased
I purchased NIOSH approved N95 masks, without valves, from one of the manufacturers in this article. I will be using them instead of my KN94 and KN95 masks when I need more protection.
I purchased them from Beilcor and received the masks within a week. The mask I purchased, “201”, had “behind the head” loops, which make the masks fit better than ear loops but only had one size. The masks were “softer” and much more comfortable than my old N95 masks. Other models were out of stock. There were over 100 reviews. None were negative but had some useful comments.
Another manufacturer, Demetech, had 2 sizes of masks in two styles, cupped and folding. I plan on trying them as I liked the folding KN95 masks as they are more convenient as I take my mask off and on.
Where to buy NIOSH regulated N95 face masks – direct from manufacturer
I googled “bielcor dust masks.” They are not available on Amazon, and other places, because they are all “cracking down” on counterfeit N95 masks. Amazon is not allowing new vendors More info on why they are not available except directly from the company in this article.
My previous experience with N95 “dust masks”
I used N95 “dust masks” for Covid protection and put tape over the valves (which let air out). A few months ago I quit using them. Announcements were made that they were not safe. I did not want to have to answer questions when I wore them.
I used them over the past few years when there was severe wildfire smoke in Northern California. In the past I used them for landscape maintenance whenever there was dust blowing around.
Check the CDC’s NIOSH list of approved manufacturers
This list is from the CDC and is cross referenced with the FDAs list of masks with EUAs.
NIOSH-Approved N95 Particulate Filtering Facepiece Respirators Updated November 6, 2020
Articles referenced in this post
5 Places To Buy N95 Masks Right Now! 2-12-21
Millions of Counterfeit N95 Masks Were Bought in 5 States, U.S. Says 2-10-21
Can’t Find an N95 Mask? This Company Has 30 Million That It Can’t Sell. 2-10
Hospitals still ration medical N95 masks as stockpiles swell Background on why this is happening 2-16-21