Fake Masks in Circulation as COVID-19 Spreads

M3 N95 Mask
Image by: Banej / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

It is nearly impossible to find the N95 respirator in retail stores in the Chicago area, or in many other parts of the United States. The cause of the mask shortage is directly linked to the coronavirus known as COVID-19, (also referred to, sometime derogatorily as the Wu Flu). A rush on stores has left shelves empty for weeks, with no end in sight.  The only place you can reliably find N95 masks are at online sellers, who are gouging the price of the mask. A pack of 10 N95 masks that sold retail for around $20 now goes for as much as $200, and product is moving

Unscrupulous sellers looking to pray upon people’s fears are now flooding the market with their own protective masks. Unlike regular N95 masks sold by major manufacturers, these masks are not National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) certified. That means their effectiveness of protecting the wearer is questionable at best.

The wave of phony masks has prompted 3M, a major producer of N95 masks, to issue a statement.

Excerpts from 3M’s Statement

Recently, we have received reports of an increase in fraudulent and counterfeit activity in connection with the novel coronavirus outbreak (2019-nCoV). Examples include people fraudulently misrepresenting themselves as being affiliated with 3M and having authentic 3M product to sell or are selling counterfeit 3M products.

3M recommends purchasing our products only from an 3M authorized distributor or dealer, which will increase the likelihood that you will receive authentic 3M products.

With regard to 3M respirators specifically, here are some tips to help avoid counterfeit products:

•3M respirators will be sold in 3M packaging, with model-specific user instructions accompanying the product

•3M respirators should not be sold individually, in bulk (such as large bags or boxes of loose respirators), or without packaging (including User Instructions)

•3M has strict quality standards, and therefore products that have missing straps, strange odors, blocked valves,misspelled words, etc. are likely not authentic 3M respirators

Full 3M release can be found HERE

Unfortunately, online stores recommended by 3M will not have N95 masks available for 6-8 weeks. Until supply increases to meet the demand of the crisis, it can be expected that counterfeiters will continue to thrive for some time.

product n95 sold out 6-8 weeks

Stay safe everyone.

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