A series of problems surrounding the availability of medical supplies and PPE (personal protective equipment) are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overcome by fear, people started to buy masks and other supplies in bulk and wholesale. But, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encouraged people to reserve these items for healthcare workers, people no longer had access to them, becoming very hard to find for sale, even in online stores.
Since COVID-19 is a respiratory infectious disease, the virus is transmitted through droplets of respiratory fluids that contain the viral particles, which are released by infected individuals when they sneeze, cough, or even by just talking or breathing. Covering the nose and mouth is, therefore, the best way to prevent the spread of the disease, and is the reason the use of face masks has been widely encouraged in the United States.
When it comes to virus protection, N95 masks are considered the best since their antiviral properties surpass those in surgical masks, the most widely used face mask in the medical field. This level of value led to this mask become scarce, partly due to their production being difficult and expensive.
The shortages have made all N95 mask models difficult to find for sale, but some of them are rarer than others. In this article, we’ll discuss the activity of N95 masks, as well as the rarest N95 mask models, and we’ll tell you how to not fall for scams involving this product.
What are N95 respirators?
These masks are also called N95 respirators because they belong in the NIOSH classification for respirators, the standard used to regulate respirators in the USA. Every country or continent has its rating system for respirators, and the American system is established by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the federal agency part of the CDC that works towards preventing occupational illnesses.
Their classification is based on two main characteristics in the respirator: resistance to oil and filtration efficacy. The first is represented in the name with one of three letters: N, R, or P, meaning not resistant, somewhat resistant, and oil-proof, respectively. Then comes a number that indicates the percentage of airborne particles in the air the respirator can filter out, which can be either 95, 99, or 100%.
This means N95 masks are effective for the filtration of non-oil-based airborne particles with an efficacy of 95%. Some particles that meet these criteria include dust, smoke, and viruses like the flu or the coronavirus, which are all respiratory hazards in different work settings. This makes N95 masks have multiple uses, not just as medical equipment.
Rarest N95 respirator models you can find online
The shortages of medical supplies and PPE have been constant throughout the 10 plus months we’ve been dealing with the pandemic, but the most affected item has been the N95 mask. Although incredible efforts have been done to increase their production and to supply the national emergency stockpile, the goal of the minimum amount of respirators hasn’t been achieved.
Big companies like Amazon and eBay have taken measures to make sure these supplies are reaching healthcare centers. For example, Amazon only sells medical equipment and medical-grade masks, including N95 respirators, through their platform for businesses to make sure they will reach first responders, healthcare workers, and other frontline workers.
In conclusion, all N95 mask models are relatively difficult to find for sale on big websites like eBay or Amazon. N95 respirators can only be found in very selective websites, including the 3M N95 masks with models like 3M 8511, 3M 8210, and 3M 1860.
Avoiding scams and buying counterfeit products, the other problem that resulted from the pandemic
With the general public, and mainly healthcare providers, in fear of being vulnerable to the virus, panic-buying products in bulk and wholesale was a common practice in the early days of the pandemic. With online purchases, which many people turned to as social distancing became more encouraged and physical stores ran out of products, an opportunity for scammers to surge became available.
The internet has been flooded with illegal activities and scams related to the pandemic and COVID-19. These people took advantage of the vulnerability people were feeling, particularly healthcare centers that need these supplies the most and are experiencing shortages.
Websites like Amazon and eBay were flooded with listings of products related to the pandemic, like KN95 masks, face shields, sanitizer, gloves, and others. But, no other item was more targeted than the N95 mask, the main product used for virus protection.
Multiple scams have been detected, with authorities arresting several people throughout the year for selling either fake N95 masks or non-existent ones. The sale of counterfeit products has also been prominent and constant throughout the year, but you can avoid falling victim to these schemes by always looking for legitimate and certified distributors with a good reputation and history of selling these products.
On the 3M website, you can find a list of the certified 3M distributors.
We would like to remind our readers that, although it’s important to be protected from the virus, especially during the holidays as cases are increasing, the use of medical-grade masks and respirators is only encouraged in healthcare settings. The CDC says that, for the general public, their recommendation is to wear reusable cloth masks, which can be either easily made at home or purchased, since they’re widely available. Kids over the age of two can wear these masks as long as they have an appropriate size for their face.