The present demand for respirator masks around the world is unlike anything we’ve before. Previous to 2020, it was rare to meet someone outside the personal protective equipment industry who comprehends what PPE or N95 meant, and now these are household terms to almost everyone.
The silver lining to this current global situation is that the general public is now more aware of its personal safety in the workplace and elsewhere, and they see the assiduous efforts PPE manufacturers and distributors take to ensure workers are protected. Unfortunately, this silver lining has a cloud and that is fraud.
Reports of fraudulent, substandard and even counterfeit PPE have become rampant in recent weeks, especially in the case of respiratory protective devices like the KN95 respirator masks. While manufacturers around the world have ramped up efforts to produce respirators, the FDA also has authorized importation and use of disposable respirators made and regulated by China, as well as other nations.
When these masks live up the level of protection they claim, they have similar performance characteristics and are allowed to be used while the COVID-19 public health emergency is in place. However, the government is finding this isn’t always the case. The NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) created a program to calculate the efficiency performance of international respirators for federal and state agencies and healthcare employees.
NPPTL has completed assessments for many products. Fortunately, most passed the test (offering a 95% or more filtration rate), which is great news for our workers on the front lines. But, it’s those which didn’t that are most concerning. According to the report, the worst offender tested at only between 34-24% in filtration efficiency.
The main recommendation if you own an imported respirator is that you test it with NIOSH. Their site has an entry form that you can send and they will complete the test in 5-7 days, but keep in mind it’s only a filtration test, not the full certification testing.
Another thing you can do to ensure your safety is buying KN95 respirator masks from a reliable source. At We Shield, we carry out our duty with an acute awareness of our social responsibility, that’s why we are committed to providing exceptional quality products to support the safety goals of our clients.