Most N95 Masks From China Don’t Meet US Standards

September 24, 2020 – Up to 70% of N95 masks certified in China do not meet U.S. standards for efficacy, the nonprofit patient safety organization ECRI warned this week.

“Due to the dire situation, US hospitals have purchased hundreds of thousands of masks produced in China over the past 6 months, and we are finding that many are not safe and effective against the spread of COVID-19,” Marcus Schabacker, MD, ECRI President and CEO said in a statement.

ECRI quality assurance researchers tested nearly 200 N95-style masks, reflecting 15 models from different manufacturers purchased by some of the largest healthcare systems in the United States.

They found that 60% to 70% of imported masks – known as KN95 masks – that had not been certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), did not filter as effectively. particles in the air. They are “significantly inferior” to NIOSH certified N95s, the report says. These masks did not filter out 95% of aerosol particles, despite what their name suggests.

“The use of masks that do not meet US standards puts patients and frontline healthcare workers at risk of infection. As an ECRI study shows, we strongly recommend that healthcare providers do so. more due diligence before buying masks that are not made or certified in America, ”Schabacker said.

According to ECRI, the domestic production capacity of the United States for N95s has increased significantly, but there remain generalized limits on the number of N95s that can be purchased.

The organization says non-NIOSH-certified masks should only be used as a “last resort” when treating COVID-19 patients and only when NIOSH-certified N95s or other respirators offering comparable or better protection are not. available.

“KN95 masks that do not meet US regulatory standards always provide more respiratory protection than surgical or fabric masks and can be used in certain clinical settings,” said Michael Argentieri, ECRI’s Vice-President for Technology and security, in the press release.

Medscape Medical News

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