How to recognize an N95 mask scam online

The COVID-19 since its outbreak has never stopped to spread across the world. Hundreds of thousands of people have died due to this virus and still, thousands of people are in hospital facilities. With this spread of the COVID-19, the demands for the personal protection equipment went sky high. PPEs such as N95 masks and N95 respirators became the most suitable and comfortable tools for protection against the virus.

N95 masks provide 95% protection against the COVID-19. They allow minimum or no particles to pass through them. With the increased demand for these N95 respirators and N95 masks, a worldwide shortage problem was created. People faced acute problems while finding these N95 masks and N95 respirators. NIOSH verified N95 masks and regulated by the FDA, these masks and respirators became the items of high price and high demands across the world. 

The manufacturing industries received the orders for millions of N95 respirators and N95 masks. Still, the problem could not be solved. Some Chinese companies came with the alternative KN95 masks and KN95 respirators in the market. However, these did not prove to be as effective as the 3M N95 respirators and N95 masks. 

Moreover, counterfeit N95 respirators and N95 masks by fake companies and fake dealers around the world also came into the market. People purchased these counterfeit N95 respirators; however, they did not prove to be effective and caused more problems. Soon these fake N95 masks and N95 respirators were recognized by the authorities and a campaign was launched by the Center for Disease Control and Command (CDC), the FDA, and NIOSH to discourage the sales of these N95 respirators in the market and make people aware of the fraud.

Guideline Issue by the NIOSH for buying N95s

To deal with the problem of counterfeit N95 masks and N95 respirators, NIOSH issued a proper buying guide for the users. The buying guide contained deep information about these N95 masks and N95 respirators. The Center for Disease Control and Command (CDC) also prepared a proper guideline for N95 users. Following are some of the instructions provided to the buyers to purchase N95s:

No NIOSH Verification Mark

All of the N95 respirators and the N95 mask models are verified by the NIOSH and they contain a verification mark by the United States’ National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). However, all the counterfeit N95 masks and N95 respirators that are circling online, do not contain the proper NIOSH verified mark. Some of them may contain the mark, but that would be wrong or different from the original. 

To check this, you can go to the website of the CDC. There are various pictures of these counterfeit masks and you can easily recognize them. 

Add-ons and Decorative Fabric

NIOSH verified N95 masks and respirators usually have simple fabric and they do not contain any fancy decorations on them. 3M mainly manufactures these N95 models in plan white color to have a classic look and match to everyone’s clothing. However, in online stores, N95 masks counterfeits are present in various colors with decorations. This is an indication of their fakeness.

Secondly, the original N95 models, do not come with the add-ons. However, all the N95 counterfeit models are offering the add-ons as well. So, when checking the N95 models for purchase from online stores, these two things must be kept in mind.

Facepiece with ear loops and no Headbands

3M manufactured and NIOSH verified N95 respirators have proper headbands. These headbands allow the N95 respirators to stay firmly on the face. If there are no headbands with the respirator or mask and it contains the ear loops instead, it shows that the model is a counterfeit. Before buying these respirators, keep this into check.

Child Approval Claim by NIOSH

The counterfeit N95 respirator models claim that they have been approved by the NIOSH for children. However, the NIOSH policy is quite different in this matter. NIOSH does not approve any N95 model for the children. All of the N95 models that are verified by the NIOSH, work only for adults. The N95 respirators and models do not properly on children’s faces. So, these are not approved by the NIOSH.

Any claims for this kind of services are by the fake manufacturers. So, this kind of service is a red mark inside the buying guide and indicator that a certain model is a counterfeit N95 model.

No Approval Number by the NIOSH

Each of the verified NIOSH models contains a particular product number. This TC number of product verification number represents the verification batch number of the N95 models. So, it is a must while buying the N95 respirators to check this number. If there is no verification number by the NIOSH, then it is a counterfeit N95 respirator. 

Guideline by the CDC

The CDC also gives a proper guideline for buying the real N95 models. These guidelines are present on the website of the CDC. Images of the counterfeit N95 models are also present on their site, which represent the various fake N95 models circulating on the online stores. You can check out the details on the website of the CDC and it will further guide you with the images of the fake N95s.


So, there are proper guidelines that are provided by the NIOSH and the CDC to purchase these N95 models. This is the safest way to firstly check for the instructions and then buy these N95 masks and N95 respirators.

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