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SHOULD YOU BUY N95 AND P2 RESPIRATOR MASKS ONLINE?

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Today you can find masks anywhere – at your local supermarket, tool shop and of course places like Amazon and Ebay. But should you buy a face mask online? What do you need to look at to make sure you get the right type of face mask?

If you are reading this, you are probably aware that there are many counterfeit products that have surged the market in the last few years. With the huge global demand factories sprang up out of nowhere to make N95 masks. But on the darker side, not everyone has been honest. There have been many counterfeit products on the market, with the main issue is that you have no idea what protection you are getting.

But really what is all the hype? How important is it? Aren’t all masks keeping you safe enough?

WHY DO PEOPLE USE N95 MASKS?

Wearing a face mask on such a scale was not a necessity until the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, doctors rarely wore N95 masks at all. Only specific medical professionals such as surgeons would need such a high grade N95 mask. So, you might be wondering who actually wore these masks before this chaos of a pandemic.

N95 masks were commonly found in hardware stores, paint shops, factories and other industries where tiny particulates could be breathed in. For instance, on construction sites tradesmen need to protect themselves during demolition works from asbestos and silica dust. Factories and painters would wear them to protect themselves from breathing in fumes.

But now, since Covid-19, N95 face masks are a must in protecting the community from contracting the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended N95 masks for healthcare workers as well as for anyone who has or may have Covid-19. The N95 and KN95 face masks are the most effective respirators in minimizing the spread of Covid-19 and other harmful viruses in the air.

HOW EFFECTIVE ARE N95 MASKS?

Both the N95 and KN95 masks are made from multiple layers of synthetic, non-woven fabric- a strong material that significantly helps prevent airborne particles from entering through your mouth and nose. They are therefore used as a physical barrier limiting the transmission of infectious particles. These personal protective equipment filters more than 95% of 0.3-micron test particles and can efficiently combat the 0.1 microns coronavirus.

A most reliable study of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus while highlighting the importance of N95 masks showed that none of the staff of health care workers wearing N95 got infected during the entire month of January 2020 compared to 4.7% of staff who did not wear masks even though the staff worked in lower risk departments.

WHERE TO BUY N95 MASKS

Due to the large amount of counterfeit masks online, if you need N95 masks we recommend that you go with a reputable retailer. The reason being, is that they have a brand to look after and are therefore generally more careful and accountable with what they sell. On Amazon or Ebay, you don’t know much about the seller. Do they have a legitimate company? Where is their online presence? What is keeping them accountable to make sure they are dispatching quality products?

We have had a look at a few online mask companies and recommend the following:

  • Canberra Diamond Blade is an Australian company that sells N95 Masks suitable for healthcare and personal use.
  • Accumed has an array of medical masks
  • Vidar has a good range of certified KN95 Masks
  • St John has a range of medical masks and first aid supplies
  • Paragon Tools is a hardware store with a solid range of PPE including Masks

ALTERNATIVES TO N95 MASKS

Since N-95 masks were becoming short in supply, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommended them to be reserved for the frontline workers who were caring for patients with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 and made KN95 masks available for the general public.

All FDA approved N95 masks are labeled as single-use disposable devices indicating them to be immediately disposed of if damaged or spoiled. Also, similar to N95 masks they cannot be used by children and will not work for those with facial hair. However, these cons outweigh N95’s pros and are therefore now a piece of widely used equipment in the health sector.

The FDA authorized the use of KN95 masks as a suitable alternative under emergencies for the general public.