Fakes and lesser-known brands are still abundant, even as health officials have advised us to up our mask game. So what to do?
A year into the coronavirus pandemic, purchasing a heavy-duty medical mask online remains quite annoying.
The most desirable mask for safety against Covid-19 has been the N95, the standard benchmark for pandemic protection due to its tight fit and 95 per cent efficiency in filtering airborne particles. Also, there’s the KN95 from China, a mask for healthcare professionals, which also offers high filtration and is slightly looser fitting.
However, these masks are far from easy to purchase on the internet. When the pandemic hit last year, they instantly became limited as health care workers and governments hurried to avail them. The demand was so strong that a grey market sprang up for them.
Even though supplies have improved, it is often not easy to find genuine N95s and KN95s online. That’s due to a few brand-name makers, so it can be tough to identify which of the dozens of manufacturers are trustworthy. Counterfeiters continue flooding the market, even on trusted sites like Amazon.
The result is usually a disappointment, when wearing a heavy-duty mask is more relevant than ever. Last week, federal health officials stressed the need for all of us to have tightfitting masks due to the new fast-spreading coronavirus variants.
There are ways to detect deceitful mask listings and how to sidestep fake reviews. So here’s how to shop on real medical-grade masks that will keep you and your loved ones safe. There are trade-offs between the two types of masks. The N95s usually have bands that strap over the back of your head, which is what makes them snug. They can be uncomfortable to wear for long periods.
The KN95s, which the Food and Drug Administration has approved for emergency use by health care workers, have ear loops for a tight fit that is a bit more comfortable than an N95. The flaw is that the KN95 leaks a bit more air than an N95.
If you are often in high-risk areas like hospitals, N95s is more appropriate. But if you just need a protective mask for more casual use, like the occasional trip to the grocery store, KN95s are possibly enough sufficient.
A KN95 mask from Powecom, a Chinese brand, proved to be an ideal one for multi-purposes. The mask scored 99 per cent filtration efficiency in the C.D.C.’s tests.
Then, visit Amazon, where you can buy what you want.