October 19 - October 23, 2020

In late August, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health—part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—released guidance on counterfeit respirators. Do you believe the guidance has had a positive impact on how employers can keep their employees safe?

Answers Votes
Yes. 67%
No. 22%
Other (please respond in the comments section). 11%

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Tagged categories: Air quality; Asia Pacific; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Health and safety; Latin America; North America; Respirators; Respiratory Protection Standard; Safety; Safety equipment; Z-Continents

Comment from Christine Cole, (10/20/2020, 10:37 AM)

While NIOSH has identified masks/respirators with filter media which does not meet particle filtration standards, they did not test the masks using the 'fit tests' required of wearers. The result is that there are still many KN95 masks which will not pass a fit test and protect their wearer. For instance, my group has never tested a KN95 mask which passes a fit test. The first indication that a mask won't pass is whether the mask strap goes around the wearer's head or if the straps are ear loops. Ear loop masks do not fit sufficiently to provide N95 level protection. There are other design characteristics which also make it difficult for a mask to pass but the strapping is one of the quickest to observe.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (10/22/2020, 10:29 AM)

Christine - the only KN95 that I've tried which I was able to fit well enough to prevent fogging glasses is the Fightec, which has both ear loop and strap, designed to be used together - the ear loops are primarily to keep the strap from shifting. No formal fit test since it's not for work, but the seal seems pretty good - Previously I did perform the fit testing for my Division for awhile, so I'm reasonably familiar with good fit. Admittedly those were all 3M respirators.

Comment from Michael Halliwell, (10/22/2020, 11:49 AM)

Christine, because each user has a different facial profile, NIOSH cannot assess these masks in terms of the fit test required by users. It is why companies need options available as not all masks will provide a suitable fit for every individual during fit testing. That said, NIOSH has not certified any ear loop filtering facepiece respirators (FFMs), just like it does not certify procedural / non-medial masks because even if the media is adequate, they generally do not permit a sufficiently robust seal as the ears are not rigid enough to keep the mask firmly in place. During the pandemic, the shortage of approved FFMs has been an issue, leading to counterfeit masks being presented as NIOSH approved or claiming N95 certification...hence the guidance. Though they have become prevalent, KN95's are not certified for workplace use as an alternative to a NIOSH N95 FFR (some have assumed they are because they have "N95" in the foreign certification number)...however, KN95s can work as a public health tool during the pandemic because, if they do not have an exhaust valve, they can do the same thing as a non-medical cloth mask or disposable procedural mask: they reduce the amount of virus laden droplets being released into the environment around the wearer.

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