Updated: Jul 18, 2022
N95 masks are optimal masks to help prevent the spread of COVID because they filter out at least 95% of airborne particles. Other masks that are effective include KN95 masks and KF94 masks; this article focuses on N95's.
The problem with many N95 masks on the market is that they aren't all legitimate. Many of them are fake and are not approved by NIOSH, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. According to the CDC, "respirators approved by NIOSH are evaluated by NIOSH against a specific US standard that includes a quality requirement. International standards do not often have quality requirements." For this reason, wearing a NIOSH-certified N95 mask is of utmost importance.
The US government has supplied some pharmacies with free N95 Masks that are available to the public. I recommend asking any pharmacy you go to if they have free masks. The CDC also has a tool where you can search pharmacies to see if they've received free masks. Click here for the tool: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/free-masks.html.
If you already have an N95 mask and would like to see if it is counterfeit, click here: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/usernotices/counterfeitResp.html#additional
This video explains how to tell if your N95 mask is fake:
Purchasing legitimate N95 masks can seem daunting because many masks seem or look "genuine." Sometimes it's not possible to determine if the mask is truly NIOSH approved or not. The following websites give you brands of NIOSH-approved N95 masks that you can purchase:
Project N95: https://www.projectn95.org/
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, N95, KN95, and KF94 masks are some of the best masks to protect against COVID. If you don't have access to these masks there are other mask options that can help protect you from COVID. Watch the video below to learn more:
I hope this is helpful! Please send me a message on social media letting me know what mask type you use and if this information was helpful. You can find my social links below!
Stay safe & healthy,
Dr. Jen Caudle is a Family Doctor & Associate Professor at Rowan University, an On-air health expert, and a video creator. Please sign up for her free newsletter and follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube for daily health videos.