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Counterfeit KN95 respirators (cdc.gov)
122 points by mortenjorck 6 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 134 comments

This is one (of many) reasons I always buy NIOSH N95’s. The most expensive part of a good N95 is, surprisingly, the straps — good straps that expand all the way around the head without snagging your hair are expensive, so you can be reasonably sure that any N95 that uses them is not counterfeit, as the material properties can’t be faked cheaply. The expense of straps is why 3M makes some N95 models in pairs that differ only in whether they have hair-snagging straps, e.g. 8210 vs 8210+.

If you really want to be sure, go with Moldex. Moldex N95 masks are made (in the USA) with a unique process where the N95 filter is covered in a hard plastic mesh. Their AirWave line in particular is truly superior to any other N95 on the market, because they own a patent on using corrugation in the mask body. You can be sure nobody is counterfeiting these — they’re a niche product for construction workers, not something people flock to for Covid protection. Just be aware they’re clunkier than even a typical N95 because of the plastic casing — “Darth Vader mask” is a term I’ve heard a lot while wearing them.

I use Kimtech 53358, also US-made and N95. Its a "duck-mask" and seems to be available at $1 each.

The Kimtech 53358 has far superior breathability compared to the Moldex 2200. Most importantly, the Kimtech "Duckmask" is foldable, and easily stores inside of an envelope, purse, handback, backpack (etc. etc.)


Moldex 2200 is cheap, solid, and durable. Its straps are a bit tight but provide a superior seal. The Kimtech feels looser and probably isn't quite as good of a seal as the Moldex.

Still, the greater comfort and cheaper price from the Kimtech 53358 has made it my N95 mask of choice. Being able to fold the mask and store it away is a huge advantage, it means I can carry 3, 4, 5 Kimtech 53448 with me at all times (in case I sneeze in the mask and want to throw it away).

Sneezing inside of a Moldex 2200 is more high-risk, because its unlikely you're carrying a spare. The mask design is just too bulky to seriously carry spares.


I do own 3M stock, and 3M masks are also pretty good :-) Maybe I should plug them so that the stock price goes up? Unfortunately, 3M masks seem to be sold out and/or at much higher prices whenever I'm shopping for masks.

EDIT: Got the number wrong initially, woops.

I find the Moldex 2200 uncomfortable too, along with any of their masks that use the cheap elastic double-straps. The good Moldex masks are the ones that have an adjustable “Handi-Strap”, which is absolutely amazing. These straps are made of braided textile that doesn’t snag your hair, they can be tension-adjusted using a plastic toggle, and they allow the mask to comfortably hang around your neck when not in use without it applying tension to your chin (unlike, say, the Moldex 2200).

Also, the corrugation in the AirWave line is absolutely essential once you’ve tried it. Even the AirWave masks that don’t have valves have lower exhale resistance than 3M masks that do have valves, like the 3M 8511. It’s a night-and-day difference to me in terms of comfort — having a conversation in an AirWave is so easy it’s almost like wearing a surgical mask, and with the added bonus of it not touching your mouth when you speak.

I wear a Moldex 4600, which have both the Handi-Strap and AirWave features.

They aren’t foldable, but they’re worth it.

I don't know about their masks, but the kimtech wipes that are rated for ISO level 4 and 5 cleanrooms are a staple consumable supply for anyone that deals with raw singlemode fiber optic cable (fusion splicing it in outdoor and datacenter/commercial environments, mostly).

Other made in the USA N95 options include Prestige Ameritech[1] which was referenced in Rick Bright's testimony mid 2020 [2] when masks were extremely scarce in the USA. It seems to buy genuine Prestige Ameritech masks, one needs to go through a medical supplies distributor and instead, I opted to buy direct through their ProGear consumer sales channel [3][4]. There is also DemeTech, which also manufactures in the USA [5].

[1] https://www.prestigeameritech.com/ [2] https://www.wgbh.org/news/national-news/2020/05/14/ousted-sc... [3] https://www.prestigeameritech.com/progearmasks [4] https://www.progearhealth.com/ [5] https://www.demetech.us/

THere was a story on here a couple days ago about someone that tested a lot of masks.


They also manufacture masks (although those are sold now, I’ve purchase them before). They seem to be reselling American made masks now:


Thanks for posting this! I've been exclusively using Powecom KN95s from Bonafidemasks.com; glad to see they get a pass.

> This is one (of many) reasons I always buy NIOSH N95’s.

I doubt that a NIOSH marking is harder to counterfeit than the rest of the mask.

Also, I'm very surprised at that claim that the straps are expensive. They are just elastic strips as far as I can tell. I've never had any issues with hair snags. Main issue I've had is that they break off of the mask at the weld point. I end up glueing them back on with hot glue.

3M has a neat solution to that. On the bottom of each box is a randomly generated code. You can type that code into a 3M web site to see if it's valid. Once. If that number has been queried before, it tells you that. So you initial and date each box after checking.

If your straps are welded, are you sure you’re using a NIOSH N95? N95 straps are, as far as I know, always stapled instead of welded. I don’t believe welds are strong enough to hold the force required by a NIOSH N95.

The straps on higher-quality respirators are not just elastic, they’re some kind of finely braided textile that doesn’t snag hair. The sole difference between the 3M 8210 and the 3M 8210+ is whether it has these more expensive straps.

I thought straps were welded to avoid making potentially leaking punctures by stapling or sewing. I don't understand this issue of hair snags. I have hair, and either my elastic straps don't snag on it, or they snag and I don't notice it as a problem. I'll try to get some 3m masks and check out this special fabric but if it's like the fabric on headlamp straps, it doesn't seem that expensive and it doesn't seem like that big an improvement over fabric.

As for the serial numbers: hmm, maybe that could help, but if each number is unique and 1/10th of them actually get checked, then the counterfeiter can just copy a bunch of unique ones and go undetected 99% of the time. (1/10th of the good masks and 1/10th of the counterfeits would be checked, and a detected duplicate would have to be in the intersection of those two sets). In fact if good masks come from known and trusted suppliers, they're even less likely to be checked, so more of the counterfeits can get through.

What we really need is an affordable way to test masks at home. It doesn't have to be super precise. A green-yellow-red led for good-marginal-bad would be fine.

I have 8210 N95s and yes, they’re welded (as confirmed on the 3M website):


Wow, I’m surprised that’s possible — 3M staples their textile straps at least, and Moldex staples both textile and rubber. I’ve never bothered with the cheaper 8210 model with rubber straps, just the 8210+ and the 1860, which both use textile straps and staples.

> I doubt that a NIOSH marking is harder to counterfeit than the rest of the mask.

Unless you're some kind of hacker who can add their product to this list: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/topics/respirators/disp_part...

It seems pretty hard to counterfeit.

The advisory suggests that there are knock-offs fraudulently marked with approved brand names, so you'd need to order direct from the manufacturer to be sure.

We got some of these, and my question is if they are any worse than the double layer knit cotton masks (with no nose wire) that my workplace was issuing. If these were marketed without the false claims, and only had the actual filtration specs, would people just think they are an acceptable step down from the real thing? The tests from a post a few days ago seemed to say most were at least in the high 85% but what is a cloth mask?

Aaron Collins on YouTube tests a lot of the masks widely available in the market for filtration and pressure tests. He compiles a Google docs sheet of his findings.


Do you have a link to the google doc? I didn't immediately see one on the video page. I wasn't up to watching any videos right now but will try to watch at least one sometime.

I will also try to order some masks from the guy who tested the Amazon masks (I'll have to find the link again).

This video description has the link to the sheet:


That is the advantage of Moldex. It isn't worth counterfeiting them when 3M and other name brands have simpler construction.

Just print the relevant markings on the fake mask?

That’s my point — you can never trust a KN95 because it’s trivial to manufacture something that looks and feels like a KN95 but isn’t real. A NIOSH N95 isn’t like that — the straps require an unusual amount of stretch and tension, and they’re expensive to make. You’d notice immediately if you purchased a counterfeit mask, because the braided material on more expensive N95’s is unique in a way you can feel — it stretches farther than any rubber band you’ve ever used, and it doesn’t snap or lose tension from overstretching.

> and it doesn’t snap or lose tension from overstretching.

Not quite.

The big-name brands (Moldex, 3M, Kimtech) have good elastic. But I've been shopping at the $1 (and below) price point, and there's some pretty crap N95 masks out there. There's a lot of smaller brands trying to make a name for themselves right now, and are just barely qualifying for N95 ratings.

Still, the crappiest N95 is leagues better than the best KN95 I've ever used.


I'm mostly willing to give the smaller manufacturers a try. Though with Omicron numbers falling in my area (about damn time), maybe this will all be behind us soon...

Two years into the pandemic, I've wondered why Amazon still allows counterfeit KN95 to be sold all over their site. It's really hard to verify that the masks you're buying actually have the rating they claim unless you buy from a trusted vendor that gets their masks directly from known good suppliers, sites like projectn95.org.

Amazon’s a flea market, and flea markets operate so cheaply by neither vetting sellers, nor inspecting goods, nor taking any responsibility for sales outcomes. Amazon will do everything in its power to avoid those duties because their retail profit model is to dodge human responsibilities such as those for labor savings.

Buying from a “fulfilled by Amazon” trusted vendor won’t necessarily help either, because Amazon also bins all products with a given UPC into a single bucket, no matter who the seller is.

On the upside, Amazon is normally pretty happy to accept returns. They have set the bar so high in how easy it is to return just about everything.

Amazon won’t accept returns of low-value or misdelivered items, and instructs customers to throw them into their wastebin for a refund rather than have to process them.

7 months ago, 624 comments were posted in a discussion about Amazon returns neither being painless nor simple. My favorite is this write up noting that returns are only processed if your predicted future revenue exceeds the return requested: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27333273

But in general, Amazon won’t honor their purchase protection policy for high value items without extensive argument and delaying tactics, which puts shoppers at risk for precisely the purchased that most need protection.

This is a little bit of an off-topic story, but still somewhat relevant. I was shopping on Amazon for LED light strips recently. I noticed that some of them said "no-waterproof" in the description, which I thought was weird. Like if they're not waterproof, just don't say anything. I searched for "waterproof", and of course they show up in the top results. Everyone looking for waterproof LED light strips will find these instead of ones that are actually waterproof. The search is just a dumb word search. (I have no idea if people want or buy waterproof LED light strips, or even if such a thing actually exists. Mine are going in a 3D printer which is ostensibly not damp.)

So, I opened up the OpenAI playground to see if GPT-3 could do better. I prompted: "Q: Is a product called "KXZM 24V LED Strip Light Natural White 600LEDs, 16.4ft Flexible SMD2835 High Brightness 4000-4500K No-Waterproof IP33 LED Tape Lights" waterproof? A:" and it answered "It's not. As you can see, this product is not waterproof. It says so in the product description." (GPT-3 is always a bit mean to me, but in this case, I obviously deserved it. What else could "no-waterproof" mean, ya idiot ;)

My conclusion is that GPT-3 could easily filter out products that don't actually match a search query, and prevent disreputable sellers from abusing naive keyword matching, making the shopping experience better for everyone. And, Amazon obviously has the talent and compute resources to build their own model like GPT-3. But they don't do it! They don't care if you buy the wrong thing or that the search results are irrelevant. As long as you click something and buy it, they make money.

I don't know how this works out long term, but I'm guessing that people don't notice they're not waterproof, and Chinese Factory A that did keyword optimization makes more money than Chinese Factory B that sprayed the LEDs with a conformal coating. (If the return rate gets too high, you just pick 8 more random all-caps letters and start a new company.)

Simple use of an API could solve this problem in seconds. Customers would be happier. We wouldn't be rewarding manipulation. It's easy. And yet, they don't. They just "select * from products where keywords like '%$1'".

My conclusion is that Amazon simply doesn't care. They're #1, and you can't get better than #1, right? If they kill a few people in a pandemic with counterfeit masks, who cares? #2 DREAMS they were killing people in a pandemic!

Eventually something terrible is going to happen, some kind of mass-casualty incident that can be directly traced to a counterfeit or illicit product sold on Amazon. At that point, Congress will fall upon them like a band of starving wolves and make them fix their broken system.

If Congress doesn't act, plaintiffs' attorneys will. It'll be the McDonald's coffee case all over again. They're not just asking for it, they're begging.

Until that happens, they simply DGAF. As you say, they're #1, and in Amazon-world, that means you stop trying.

I'd argue it almost happened with counterfeit solar eclipse glasses. At the last second I think Amazon sent out a mass blast warning people to dispose of them and get a refund or something of that nature. People were unhappy because it was so close to the solar eclipse date and there was no other stock available. Its been a few years so my memory of his is a bit fuzzy but I think thats essentially what happened.

>And, Amazon obviously has the talent and compute resources to build their own model like GPT-3.

Let's be clear about something

GPT-3 is state of the art. It is really good. It cost A LOT to develop.

I don't think Amazon replicating it is trivial.

I guess step 1 is 'if search_term == "waterproof" and description.contains("no-waterproof"): exclude from search results'.

The simple answer is that the money they make from the sale of counterfeit masks is greater than the amount they lose from the hit to their reputation. Amazon has established a de-facto monopoly on general-purpose online shopping, so they don't have to worry about people going elsewhere. They also have no legal liability, so they have no incentive to spend more than a token effort combatting their massive fraud problems. It's simple business calculus.

I don't think they really care as long as they get a cut. Maybe if they get enough negative publicity people will turn on them and they'll clean things up, but I doubt they'll do anything until it cuts into their profits.

I'm pretty sure I've gotten counterfeit GE light bulbs from them. It was an appliance bulb, packaging looked right, the bulb died within a day. I found another at a local grocery store, same packaging, slightly different tint to the glass, and it's been going for years now (in an oven that I frequently run at 550 F).

Amazon has had a big counterfeit problem for years. And they commingle their inventory so that there's no way for a customer to even buy from a "reputable" seller. I don't think anything short of regulator cracking down hard is going to make them care.

I can only imagine they actually like the counterfeit products as they must represent a fair portion of their sales. If they didn’t like them I feel they could come up with a supply chain tracing system for reputable sellers. The problem has existed for so long I don’t believe they’re trying to stop it.

It's not just masks on Amazon: SSDs, flash cards have huge amounts of fakes which report the right size but have a fraction of the actually claimed memory on them.

This is such a true comment. I recommend anyone who purchases flash storage devices from untrustworthy retailers to check out f3[0].

  f3 - Fight Flash Fraud¶
  f3 is a simple tool that tests flash cards capacity and performance to see if 
  they live up to claimed specifications. It fills the device with pseudorandom 
  data and then checks if it returns the same on reading.

  F3 stands for Fight Flash Fraud, or Fight Fake Flash.
[0] https://fight-flash-fraud.readthedocs.io/en/latest/introduct...

I just bought one of those $20 2TB SSDs just to run f3 on it and see what the output says. Been running for 2 solid days and only at 25% complete.

Photographic filters are notorious for being mostly fake on Amazon.

Damn, thanks for the heads-up. I even wonder about things like batteries too. There are probably hundreds of categories that are ripe for fakes that are not easily detectable.

The larger question is why the government hasn't regulated them to stop doing that, because Amazon will sell what people are buying:

1) If anything, the company leadership has demonstrated their amorality when it comes to exchanging dollars for things people want

2) The company leadership doesn't feel the need to be particularly hand-holdy to a public that is still running them dry on Ivermectin as fast as it comes in.

... but there's nothing really stopping the government from saying "If you're going to sell medical supplies you must be regulated as a medical supplier" other than lack of will.

It’s been really strange buying masks for the last couple years. I’ve been able to buy a brand I recognize (3M) from a retailer I trust (Home Depot) one time. Every other purchase has been a no-name supplier on Amazon or at a store. I eventually switched to just surgical masks from Costco, because I was never confident with the KN95’s I had. I would have thought I could walk into Target and buy some from a brand like J&J by now.

I heard about Project N95 today, which seems legit: https://www.projectn95.org/

Projet N95 is a legit organization. They were an official member of a project I volunteered for at the beginning of the pandemic: https://c19coalition.org/directory

Eric Ries (The Lean Startup, LTSE) was a co-founder of this coalition. Him and the other stakeholders of the coalition worked to make sure the coalition members were legit.

I noticed the other day that Target doesn't sell ANY N95 masks in any stores near me in the Bay Area. This far in to the pandemic and it really feels like the powers that be simply do not care.

Don't know what to think of it, because in .de some supermarkets stock them, but you have to ask for them at the cashier. There they pick the amount you asked for out of a box, where every single one is in hermetically sealed bag. Because of theft, supposedly. Some did it always like this, some only in times of "high demand", like after wearing them has become mandatory in places. Even gas stations stock them here, though more expensive because gas station.

Prices are anything between 65ct and 1.10€ in supermarkets, and upwards of 1.70€ in gas stations. All various chinese brands, no 3M or such. Though they have some certification prints/seals/QR-codes on the bag and sometimes on a paper leaflet in the bag.

edit: we call them FFP2 here, btw.

It seemed that most people in the Bay Area settled on stylish cloth masks as good enough for keeping up appearances. Maybe Target realized there wasn't really demand?

Possible, but I wonder if they ever stocked them. Hard to imagine there is zero demand. Especially during surges. Maybe people are wearing cloth masks because N95's are hard to find.


Just go to the official USA N95 page. All available products in the USA are listed there.

If anything seems suspect, double-check the official listing on that webpage.

The problem is you can buy one of those brands online and get something marked as that brand, but it smells different and it is suspiciously easy to breathe through.

Shop at better stores than lol Amazon.

Grainger, Uline, WBMason, Home Depot to name a few. If you want to actually trust the product and supply chain, spend a few bucks more.

Its not that much more expensive, and these other stores are much more honest.

I believe they are legit. I think my sister pointed me there months ago ... but they were pretty pricey. Seems to be more affordable now — roughly $1 (U.S.) per mask.

I typically buy Healmade KF94 masks. I believe there are counterfeits of those as well, but the Korean manufacturers seem to have more genuine capacity.

The major brands of masks are 3M, Kimtech / Kimberly Clark, Moldex... among many many others.

USA has plenty of masks at the $1/mask price point with full N95 rating. There are also a ton of small companies / startups who started manufacturing N95 masks seeing the opportunity for the pandemic.

The main benefit of N95 is a strap that wraps all the way around the head (N95 American standard is higher quality and costs a bit more because of this strap). KN94 or whatever the Korean standard is has only ear-loops, so your ears get quite tired from all the stress over time.

So if there is a 3M N95 mask on Amazon, how can you even check that it's not a fake one? Only shop from 3M? Well they are perpetually sold out. Next up (i did a quick search), are 3M N95 masks "Sold by Promax America". I've never heard of Promax America (they could be the most legit in the world), but how can I tell they don't sell fake 3M's?

There's a lot of other stores aside from Amazon, that have much better supply chains. Especially when we're talking about industrial equipment like N95 respirators.

Grainger, Uline, WBMason, Home Depot to name a few.

Assume all 3M are fake and buy something else.

At least all 3M masks sold by non-industry suppliers. Consumers don't have enough experience to recognize a fake while those who are familiar with genuine N95 masks, have experience with suppliers that provide to construction, assembly, healthcare, painting, etc.

I'm aware of these things, although the last time I went looking it was hard to find major US brand masks. Seems to be a bit better now.

The KF94 masks I have come with a little hook that you can use to connect the ear loops in the back. This produces a tighter fit and also saves your ears.

Depends on the head and ears. Personally I have no stress with the ear-loops, while the all-around things are impractical. (Though they are rare here) Why? Interferes with my ponytail, OFC!

Costco sells KN95 and N95 online.

Unfortunately in my area (Seattle), they do not. Not in stores, not online. I believe they’ve had them momentarily a couple times throughout the pandemic, but they don’t have a steady supply.

ConsumerLab.com [1] has been doing independent tests of health products for over 20 years. Like Consumer Reports, they take no advertising money and are supported by subscriptions. They do things like measure which vitamin brands actually contain the specified amount of vitamin, and they test for toxins in lots of things, including dried seaweed snacks (!).

The intro to ConsumerLab's review of KN95 masks [2] says:

> We reviewed many KN95 masks sold on Amazon but found only one currently on the FDA's list of authorized respirators that we recommend, and we found two that should be avoided. We also found an FDA-authorized KN95 through an online direct distributor in the U.S.

(EDIT: details are available to subscribers, but the U.S. distributor they recommend is https://bonafidemasks.com, which was also recommended in a sibling a comment on this page by codemac.)

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ConsumerLab.com

[2] https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/how-to-make-covid-19-mas...

> We reviewed many KN95 masks sold on Amazon but found only one currently on the FDA's list of authorized respirators that we recommend, and we found two that should be avoided. We also found an FDA-authorized KN95 through an online direct distributor in the U.S. Sign in to get the details

Care to share?

Side point: I think dealing with counterfeit goods could be a good way for developed nations to bring back more manufacturing and generally better products.

I wonder if a good system would be to beef up quality checks on imported. Make sure things are what they are and made with materials you want for the health of you population as I have little doubt many kids toys, furniture's, building materials and food plastics etc are probably not as safe as you'd want or blatantly containing banned items.

I was thinking a good way yo do it would be a combination of 1) importers pay for the inspections rather than the nominal current fee and 2) importers could get a 'grade' kind of like financial ratings.

As importers show good practice over time their grade reflects this and less goods are inspected and cost to import go down. This could create real value to certification and if done right it would be something groups strongly protect. It would stop people jumping on trends with dodgy products as new importers would have to pay upfront for inspections and risk losing their goods, which would be a game changer for product quality.

I think something like this would have so many benefits in removing counterfeit and healthier products in countries. Also I wonder if it would level the playing field in manufacturing domestically for developed nations, so companies doing the right thing are not disadvantaged so much to those willing to cut corners. Also would probably have a huge flow-on effect to drug importation as I imagine a bunch of this happens with less reputable importers but Im guessing here.

Anyway talking from a very non-expert position so likely flawed view... but strongly feel this is something that that needs to be dealt with for counterfeit/health reasons.

> bring back more manufacturing and generally better products.

There's no reason there wouldn't be domestic counterfeit goods, and quality has more to do with what people are willing to pay. True, Chinese goods tend to be low quality because they're made in China so they can be as cheap as possible, but Apple also has a lot of production there, they just use reputable vendors.

Probably not stop counterfeit , but would significantly reduce it having domestic accountability. Much easier to do criminal charges, apply fines to property/factory etc. That recourse for quality largely doesn't exist for most importers and foreign governments to place like china except for the most serious of offences. And with things like Apple (or any big brand), they have incredible buying power + ability to resource high level of QA. That works for powerful companies for sure but once you drop in scale and on more generic goods, that is clearly another story.

This is both a high enough number and an important enough issue that it feels like Amazon should just outright prohibit the sale of KN95s, or that regulations should fall on Amazon to police it.

I'm sure other stores that have third party marketplaces like Walmart and Home Depot, or sites like eBay also contribute to this issue, but we all know it's likely mostly an Amazon problem.

> Amazon should just outright prohibit the sale of KN95s

Amazon allows and profits from counterfeits in a lot of products, not just KN95s. Amazon should be held liable for not taking due care in ensuring personal protection equipment is not up to the certifications they sell them as.

3M 8210 N95 masks dropped to $0.89/each about 5 months ago and haven't budged since then. Presumably they could now ramp up production if required. I often wonder why Amazon doesn't just presume guilty unless proven innocent when it comes to life-safety equipment like face respirators during a pandemic once supply chains of known-good equipment are available.

How difficult would it be for this single product line to be validated by someone at Amazon?


American made.

I heard a podcast about them. It might have been Planet Money. They ramped up production at the start of the pandemic, but then could not sell their supply. They were not allowed to advertise on Facebook because PPE was supposed to be reserved for the medical community, but then the medical community wasn’t buying either for budgetary reasons and fear of counterfeits.


I've been buying from https://bonafidemasks.com , they sell Guangzhou Powecom and Guangzhou Harley masks, which all do incredibly well (99+) with their KN95's on the CDC website. I highly recommend them.

> all do incredibly well (99+) with their KN95's on the CDC website

Not all, strictly speaking. I see one Powecom mask listed under the "Respirator Assessment Results Considered as Counterfeit and/or Misuse of Company Name" section of the CDC's site [0]. Open the link, scroll down to that heading, click on the "G" tab, then Cmd+F for "Guangzhou Powecom Labor Insurance Supplies" and you'll see it.

That said, I suspect it was maybe just a slightly sub-standard batch. The minimum filtration efficiency was still >93%, not anywhere near as bad as some others on that list. I still plan on buying the Powecom KN95s from Bona Fide Masks in the future. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

[0] https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/respirators/testing/NonNIOSH...

Has their order fulfillment been outrageously slow for you? I've bought from then twice (Jan 2021 and Dec 2021) and both times they didn't even ship my order for 2 weeks.

They've always been slow for me. My first order in November 2020, I think it took three weeks from ordering to receipt. The following two orders haven't been quite as bad, but there was a noticeable delay.

They're extremely busy, as per the new recommendation.

I buy 100's at a time though, so I always have plenty of overlap between orders.

They shipped mine quickly. I ordered a couple hundred masks so possibly they ship larger orders quicker?

The sad state of affairs. So many ways to do it wrong. Even weirder is the CDC site here says under the "masks that meet standards" header, "Do NOT wear" them if you have facial hair. Seriously. If you don't believe me


When I raised facial hair as an issue I was laughed at. I knew it was a problem because I had a full beard and could feel my breath escape. I guess now there should be shave mandates since double shot with a booster and a beard means distributing death.

If you have a large beard, you’re basically unmasked. I think the CDC is right. If you’re bearded, it’s just hygiene theater. I’m not sure what can be done, mandating shaving would run against Jewish and Islamic beliefs, so any such mandate would probably be struck down quickly.

You can trim the beards down to get good fit. They can be as long as 10mm and not have any material impact on the fit of the mask, so long as you use the right mask-fitting process. They may be harder to fit on someone with a 10mm beard, but it’s still do-able. Same with CPAP and SCUBA masks.

Yea its so sad that many old beliefs will render the efforts like masks useless (to some extent but I still think it is beneficial over no masks.). :(

Let’s not be degrading by calling things old beliefs. There are plenty of hipster millennials growing immaculate beards and video blogging about it which are just as problematic with what the CDC said and would be upset

Then you need a full face respirator. Standard item, but rather pricey.

If you have facial hair, you can't expect a good seal around the edges of the mask, so there will be some air getting to you (and out of you) that is unfiltered.

This is also why military are told to have clean shave in world war II. Masks were important due to poisonous gas issues and facial hair creates a lot of problems.

So I don't this it is incredulous thing :)

I'd like to mention that there are also two excellent YouTube channels that do mask efficacy testing & reviews:



I wonder what percentage of those were "Sold by Amazon.com"

Yeah don’t buy off amazon folks.

Most of them, I would imagine.

I've ordered KN95 masks from Amazon twice because I couldn't find them elsewhere and needed them for travel. The first time, the masks I received looked nothing like the masks advertised, and felt like they were made of tissue paper. The most recent time, the masks I received had clearly been opened before and poorly re-sealed into plastic bags.

You're shadowbanned. I didn't look far enough into your past to see why, but you might want to email the mods and ask forgiveness.

Out of curiosity, how did you know they were shadowbanned? The comment appears fine for me.

Their post would have been labeled [dead] and only visible to users who have the showdead option enabled. It’s no longer dead, so BugsJustFindMe or someone else probably hit the “vouch” link on it.

You can tell by looking at their comment history with showdead enabled.

Great illustration of the US’ low state capacity. Whether that’s borne of lack or will or lack of ability starts to not matter at some point…

This is why when I lived in Korea we'd only buy KF94 made in Korea. KF94 made in China were also usually counterfit. It is crazy to me how everyone buys "KN95" in the US.

I hate to break this to you, but Chinese manufacturers can and do fake the "Made in X" labels as well.

Is there a good way to tell? Like at home.

Using a PM2.5 detector, a vacuum and a source of particles ( burning incense). You could probably rig. Something up. But without the right equipment you'd be guessing if your set up was measuring the correct thing.

Wild speculation but it might be possible if you had a calibrated hyperspectral camera, calibrated light source at a known distance and luminous flux level, and a database of known good masks.

I mean the equipment "fits" "at home" (lol)

I wonder if its possible to burn masks and analyze the spectrum of the light emitted by the burning masks. Might need a hyperspectral camera for that and it might not yield any useful information.

Knowing that the material is polyethylene doesn't tell you the mesh density or electrostatic charge.

FYI Grainger has N95s (not KN95s) in stock, is unlikely to have the systemic counterfeiting problems Amazon does, and in my experience delivers quickly: https://www.grainger.com/category/safety/respiratory-protect...

Price vary, but they run about $2 a mask give or take a bit. You can generally reuse them for a while, assuming you don't work in a hospital - the usual reason to dispose of them is if pathogens are on them, but if you're only using it for protection against covid, the virus dies quickly when outside a host. I don't go out a whole lot because I work from home so I usually use one mask for at least a week, often several weeks. If you're going out frequently, I've seen a recommendation to rotate through a couple of active masks, giving the virus a few days to die off.

I bought 3M Aura masks at home depot today in Bay Area and there was a ton of them.

I thought hitting the N95 spec relied on static charges on the non-woven fibers which are otherwise too coarse. Are they more effective than cloth even after that dissipates (within a day)?

Interesting, I did not know this. I'm now curious!

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02550-8 is a brief Nature post from Peter Tsai, who invented this electrostatic filter. In it he says that the charge are "permanent," and adds:

> They wanted to sterilize the masks for reuse without damaging them or destroying the electrostatic charge. I knew that heat would not alter the charge, but that alcohol would erase it.

The N95DECON project says that masks can be reused if stored at room temperature and do not lose efficiency: https://www.n95decon.org/publications#time

I see some studies that find that various decontamination methods (high heat, various disinfectants) can cause the charge to dissipate, e.g., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7724761/ - but I'm not advocating doing any of those, I'm just advocating leaving it hanging on a hook by your door when you get home. And, interestingly, those studies show that while filtration may drop below 95%, it's still pretty high, so I think that yes, a discharged N95 is still more effective than a cloth mask. But it'd be good to find a direct study.

I'm having trouble finding a source that says the filtration performance drops after a day. I did find something that says that the N95 standard requires it must keep working for at least 24 hours, but that's the other direction.

(And, anecdotally... the masks I ordered are shipped stacked together, not individually wrapped, in a cardboard box. They've presumably been in the box for a while at the warehouse. While it's true that cardboard is an insulator, so is air, and I'm not sure that the mask hanging by my door is losing charge any faster than the mask sitting in the box.)

One thing that does seem to be true is that getting the mask wet can cause the charge to dissipate. If I'm wearing my mask in humid conditions and biking (I usually leave my mask on if I'm stopping frequently), I'll notice that it gets damp, and I do change it when that happens. If your home is extraordinarily humid, maybe put your mask in a brown paper bag or something.

Could anyone please explain why we don't have commercially viable gas mask-style full-face respirators with replaceable filter cartridges?

The problem with the regular masks is that a huge amount of air still goes around them. You can do an experiment - firmly push a KN95 respirator into your face with 4 fingers and try breathing through it. You'll feel more resistance, you'll actually smell the filtering material, you'll see how the mask puffs up when you exhale. You let go and most of these effects go away, as the air is just going between the mask and your face.

P.S. I was researching the topic before taking a longish flight, looking to minimize my chance of catching COVID before a tropical vacation to ~0% and was rather astounded that full-face masks, like the gas ones aren't even allowed in the airports. I didn't catch COVID that time, but I wonder how much transmission could we cut off if we offered something like this in places where people are forced to sit together for prolonged time.

We do. Masks exactly like the ones you’re describing are widely sold in hardware stores. They’re properly known as elastomeric respirators. They’re clunky, hideous, and they greatly impair communication far more than a disposable N95 or KN95. Nobody wants them for daily use.

Also, because they’re almost invariably sold for use in construction and carpentry, not medical settings, they use exhale vents. Some people think this is a big problem, and dismiss these respirators as a class because of it. Respirators without exhale valves, as well as ones with voice diaphragms for speech, are also available for medical use, but these are unusual and AFAIK didn’t exist before Covid.

However they are great for not fogging glasses.

>Could anyone please explain why we don't have commercially viable gas mask-style full-face respirators with replaceable filter cartridges?

Home depot:


I don't think most people want, need, or would tolerate something that extreme though. KN95 or N95 is good enough.

There's "GVS SPR644 ELIPSE P100 Elastomeric Half Mask Respirator with Source Control for Healthcare Professionals", which is about $25. Covers mouth and nose but not eyes. The filters can be replaced. It looks like a painting respirator, but it's much lighter, because it doesn't have the volatile organics cartridge for removing paint solvents, just a P100 filter. It's good for exercising, because it has less backpressure than a 3M 8210 Plus.

Anything that doesn't fit tightly is useless for protecting yourself. If you inhale and you don't feel the mask pulled against your face, it's not working.

"regular masks" which just ear loops or NIOSH N95 with straps that go around the back of your head?

"regular masks" that you buy and put on or NIOSH N95 masks with a proper fit test to make sure you have the correct size and are wearing it correctly.

You can make a mask fit tighter with a mask brace or mask seal. https://making.engr.wisc.edu/mask-fitter/

How about "N95-grade" respirator? https://www.fastcompany.com/90706115/this-high-tech-mask-wen...

"Razer points out that the system has been independently certified with a Bacterial Filtration Efficiency of over 99%, like an N95."


"Razer claims that Project Hazel is the world's smartest mask. It is a reusable N95 respirator"


"Razer announced today that its lit-like-a-gaming-PC N95 mask"


"I wore Razer’s Zephyr N95 mask"





See Naomi Wu’s video at https://youtu.be/nDzhGjbvVGc

I feel like the emphasis on the percentage of KN95s which are counterfeit is suspect in the context of this page, since even a counterfeit respirator is likely to perform an order of magnitude better than any cloth mask or surgical mask at preventing spread of viral particles.

I find masknerd on youtube an excellent source of information. https://www.youtube.com/user/coll0412


American made N95, KN95, and ASTM Level 3 masks. See their mask testing database, click on each and see a video of their test: https://www.armbrustusa.com/pages/mask-testing?mask=-review

You can find 20-30% off coupons for them online. I'm very happy with my purchases from them.

These honeywell masks are pretty good:


Easier to get than 3M, a respected brand like 3M, more comfortable than N95.

3M isn't all that respectable:

> A lawsuit filed by Minnesota against 3M, the company that first developed and sold PFOS and PFOA, the two best-known PFAS compounds, has revealed that the company knew that these chemicals were accumulating in people’s blood for more than 40 years. 3M researchers documented the chemicals in fish, just as the Michigan scientist did, but they did so back in the 1970s. That same decade, 3M scientists realized that the compounds they produced were toxic. The company even had evidence back then of the compounds’ effects on the immune system, studies of which are just now driving the lower levels put forward by the ATSDR, as well as several states and the European Union.


This Show HN [1] from Armbrust earlier in the week provided lab tests of 300+ masks bought from Amazon.

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29878971

Here's an interesting mask review site I ran across a couple of days ago, looks legit.


KN95 is a Chinese certification. Given their cavalier culture of chabuduo, I’m surprised the reject rate isn’t higher. I only buy masks made in the EU, US, Canada, Japan or Korea for this reason.

This is true and glad that CDC pointed it out. I guess an even bigger percentage of "N95" and "KN95" masks in India are fake.

This is the most powerful and wealthy country in the world and we can’t even supply our citizens with working masks 2 years into a pandemic?

The CDC's report is not appropriate to make this conclusion. Following through on how the CDC came to this figure they categorize all masks from certain manufacturers whose products have been counterfeited as all being counterfeit. If company X makes legitimate N95 masks, but there is a company Y that makes counterfeit X masks, then all of X's masks are considered counterfeit.

That's fine if you want to play it safe, but it's not fine if you're making a judgement about genuine capacity or supply.

Any medical scam is despicable, but, probably just because I'm personally affected by these, they strike me as particularly loathsome.

dang: original title is "Types of Masks and Respirators". Only a small box in the middle relates to counterfeit KN95's.

Amusing to see knockoffs of knockoffs (KN95 is a Chinese standard).

I only buy N95 masks with valves from 3M. The CDC approved N95 respirators with valves in spring 2021 as being safe for others.

3M masks are made in the USA. I have 500 right now and plan on keeping them even after the pandemic. Just in case.

But those masks with respirator valves need surgical tape over the valves to provide any type of source protection (https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2021-107/pdfs/2021-107.pdf?id...) - which seems like a pain to me. I'd rather just use a breathable N95.

You read that report wrong. That report states that even without anything, an N95 mask will give better protection that simple wearing a medical mask, like what most people are approved to wear right now. So an N95 mask with exhalation valve is better than anything, including medical mask, except for a completely sealed N95 mask.

But since a completely sealed N95 mask isn't the standard we need to reach, we only need to reach the level of medical mask which gives more than enough protection, a valved respirator is safe. That's exactly what the report states.

I've always considered surgical masks to be partially pandemic theater, particularly once we discovered how aerosol driven SARS-CoV-2 is. Great for preventing the exhalation of fomites, but not particularly guaranteed at anything airborne, such as Omicron. So much air moves around the edges - There is a reason why medical professionals don't rely on unbraced Surgical Masks for personal protection in an airborne respiratory ward.

My guess, based on what we know about low-micron aerosol transmission, that anybody walking around with a valved respirator/surgical mask and infected with Omicron, is potentially infecting anyone unmasked around them.

But - with that said, I did learn from you that valved respirators aren't horrible - but I should look at someone wearing one in the same way I would look at someone with a surgical mask.

I'm also dubious as to whether N95 masks are doing as much as people think they are - breathability is key factor that needs to be considered - unless all of your inhalation and exhalation is passing through the mask, once again it's not doing/protecting what you think it is, despite how tightly fit it is, and the fact that on a NaCl 3 micron bench test it's rated at 99.9x% effective.

I hope you keep them in a temperature and humidity controlled environment or you will get biological growth on them in a hurry

They are usually sealed in plastic bags...

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