When Purchasing the KN95 and N95 Masks It’s Good to Know the Warning Signs of Fakes

In recent findings when it comes to  face coverings, the mask highly recommended for protection against the easily transmittable  and rapidly spreading  Omicron variant  is said to be  KN95 and or N95 respirator mask. 

Between the two masks the most distinct physical difference is that the KN95 has ear loops and the N95 has elastic bands that go around the head. 

Unfortunately there has been a spike in counterfeit versions of these masks hitting the market and it’s tough for consumers to tell the difference.  Whether  you’re evaluating suspect N95 or KN95 masks, here are some red flags you can look out for to be sure you are getting not only what you pay for but what you expect to be protected by. It’s counterfeit if;

1.It doesn’t look like a face mask and doesn’t cover your nose and mouth  properly 

2. The packaging is not tamper evident or sealed well.

3. There’s no company or location info on the packaging  nor is there a legitimate website or physical address for the manufacturer.

4. There’s no markings or branding directly on the mask 

5. There’s no expiration date. The particle-repelling electrostatic charge on respirator masks eventually degrades over time, there should always be an expiration date .

6. Incorrect spelling of the brand name, and or  terminology is used incorrectly.  Any packaging that states a mask is “FDA approved” is a red flag. An N95 is approved by NIOSH, not the FDA (though a surgical N95 must also be authorized or cleared by the FDA). However, neither NIOSH nor the FDA provide so-called certificates of approval.

7. The company overkills the use of words on the packaging like genuine, legitimate, authentic.

8. You notice quality control issues like  a crooked nose-bridge wire, elastic that lose their stretch or detach easily.

9. There’s no approval number. This alphanumeric designation starts with the letters “TC-84A followed by four additional digits and can be found on the mask or bands . If there is one check for  it on the NIOSH certified equipment list.

10. The mask has ear loops. Legitimate N95 never have ear loops however KN95 masks do

11. There are claims on advertising or the packaging that the mask can be worn by children . On the N95 there is no option for children to wear on the KN95 there is. 

12. There’s no GB marking. The KN95 standard requires that masks made after July 1, 2021, be stamped with GB2626-2019, which provides reassurance that the manufacturer constructed the mask according to current Chinese respirator standards.

*Mask red flag facts sourced from various reports