How to Tell if an N95 Mask Is Legit Amid Influx of Counterfeits | Inside Edition

How to Tell if an N95 Mask Is Legit Amid Influx of Counterfeits

In the last three weeks, investigators have seized more than 11 million counterfeit masks, including 1.7 million counterfeit masks at a warehouse in Queens, New York. Here's how to spot if your mask is real.

At warehouses across the country, investigators are uncovering a treasure trove of counterfeit N95 face masks meant for healthcare workers. In the last three weeks, investigators have seized more than 11 million counterfeit masks, including 1.7 million counterfeit 3M face masks at a warehouse in Queens, New York.

Investigators say at least 200,000 of the knockoffs were recently sold to a healthcare system down South.

“The idea that healthcare workers are out there with fake masks and masks that were not properly tested or properly packaged is something that this office finds heart-wrenching,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said.

With so many phony N95s floating around, how can you tell if the mask you're buying is legit?

“One of the easiest ways to spot a fake N95 is looking at the straps. And if the straps are like this and go around your ears, it is not an approved N95,” NYU professor Dr. Jack Caravanos told Inside Edition.

“A real N95 is very identifiable, because it will have two straps: one going around your neck and one going over the top of your head,” Caravanos said.

That allows for a nice, snug fit. You can also spot a fake by the markings on the mask. 

"A real N95 has all sorts of markings. The first thing you'll notice is the 'manufacturer' followed by the 'TC number'— the approval number from the government,” Caravanos said.

Most importantly, real masks will be labeled with the acronym for the approval agency, NIOSH, which stands for National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. A list of NIOSH-approved filtering masks can be found at the Centers for Disease Control website.

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