Should you sell your N95 masks?

The new surge of COVID-19 cases represents a new increase in the demand for medical supplies in healthcare centers. Since we’re still in the holiday season, why not give back to those who need the most protection while fighting for our lives? N95 masks represent maybe the most important piece of safety equipment in the healthcare field at the moment.

All types of PPE (personal protective equipment) is necessary right now during the pandemic, including not only N95 respirators, but also KN95 masks, gloves, gowns, surgical masks, and face shields. Shortages of all of these supplies have been reported all over the United States, with healthcare facilities needing large amounts of them to keep their workers safe.

We recommend the donation of N95 masks if they’re available to you, instead of selling them. And in this article, we’ll go in-depth as to why this is the right decision, and where you can donate in the USA.

Why are N95 masks important in the healthcare field?

In settings where workers and other people are very closely exposed to the virus at all times, like the healthcare field, cloth or surgical masks aren’t effective enough for their protection. N95 masks, on the other hand, represent a completely necessary item for respiratory protection in situations where contact with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases is necessary.

The antiviral filtering properties of these masks, also called N95 respirators, is what gives them the ability to offer such high virus protection. For this reason, they’ve been extremely valuable in the healthcare field, as well as scarce. Even popular models like the 3M 8511, 3M 1860, and 3M 8210, which are all 3M N95 masks, are difficult to find for sale online or on physical stores.

The name ‘N95’ indicates that the respirators are not able to filter out particles with oil, and they filter out airborne particles with a 95% efficacy rate. This is why they can filter out a wide variety of particles that include not only the flu virus and the novel coronavirus, but also hazards found in other work settings, like dust or smoke. This gives them other uses outside the healthcare field, but right now that is the most important one.

How can you donate N95 masks instead of selling them?

Here are some of the best options to consider in the USA:

  1. Consult with your local state health department

This should be the first place you should check for where to direct your donations, as governors and state officials all over the country are always asking for donations of unused PPE from people who have them at home or from companies who have not used them. This should be the easiest way to make sure your N95 masks are useful in your location.

  1. Donate PPE

A partnership between Silicon Valley engineers and medical students at the University of California in San Francisco resulted in this source of information on what supplies are needed and where. They provide a list of the necessary items along with contact information for the centers or doctors requesting them.

  1. PPE Link and Mask Match

These are two tools that work very similarly. In Mask Match, you find a peer-to-peer platform where individuals with available donations are paired with healthcare workers in need of them through a third-part website called In Mask Match, the donor has to have available at least 5 masks to be allowed to donate, and they also have to take responsibility for the shipping costs.

PPE Link is also a service that connects people who need PPE and laboratories with extra PPE, using the same third-party website. In this case, the platform displays the donation sites in the country, and if you don’t find a convenient point to drop-off your donations, PPE link can put you in touch with other centers.

  1. University hospitals

The Twitter account for the Association of American Universities has a running tally of institutions that are members of the association and that are seeking for PPE. The list has links to the school websites and other information that can be useful for donors with available masks and other PPE.

  1. Get Us PPE

This has been one of the most shared and popular non-profit organizations since the pandemic began, which aims to provide PPE to not only healthcare workers but also all sorts of frontline workers. They have options on their website for receiving and donating either PPE or funds. 

We would like to end this article reminding our readers that one of the biggest ways we can help our healthcare providers at the moment is to keep wearing face masks. However, many people began to buy medical-grade ones in bulk and wholesale when the coronavirus outbreak was just starting and have a lot of necessary PPE healthcare centers needed right now.

The production of these items hasn’t been able to meet the incredible demand, and now N95 masks and other supplies are very difficult to find for sale. This is why we want to urge anyone with existing N95 masks to not sell them, and donate them instead. Also, don’t use them, since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the use of reusable cloth masks for the general public, even kids above the age of 2.

If you’re looking to contribute to healthcare centers in your location, but don’t have any PPE available, financial donations are also extremely helpful right now and you can find many resources online for fundraisers for frontline workers.

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