Experts warning consumers about counterfeit masks

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind — As many prepare to travel and gather for the Holidays, officials have recommended everyone mask up as the new Omicron variant sparks concerns around the nation. But, before you buy any more, experts warned about fake masks offering a false sense of protection.

“Fake or counterfeit masks would be one. I would say another is mask that do not meet the standards in which they claim is a secondary group, and then the third group is what I would say is more of a misunderstanding by the consumer in their purchasing in that of non-regulated masks,” said Luis Arguello Jr., the President of DemeTech.

The president of the Florida based mask manufacturing company said the sale of counterfeit N95 and KN95 masks particularly from China have been on the rise in recent months, with nearly 60% of KN95 masks sold across U.S. turning out to be fake.

The sale of the counterfeit masks has racked up $34 million in sales, on top of offering a fake sense of security amid the crisis.

“Materials that they are using are not going to be held to any standards they’re not regulated by the FDA because this is not their original factory. So, you are putting something on your face, one that does not protect to you, but two it’s made with products that that you don’t know,” added Arguello.

With the rise of the new more contagious Omicron variant, local health experts stressed the importance of mask wearing for upcoming Holiday festivities.

“…people are going to be going to parties with friends and they’ll take their mask off, so it’s even more important now as social gatherings to wear your mask even if you’ve been vaccinated,” said Dr. Jim Harris, an Allergist and Director of Research, South Bend Clinic.

Experts also looked to inform consumers about which masks are legit and will provide the most protection this season.

“Really the best mask to wear is really the N-95. It comes in lots of shapes and sizes, but the bottom line is it’s a much more effective filtration system then just putting a scarf over your face or some of the smaller disposable masks,” added Harris. “In general, we prefer the regular N95s but the K-N95s overall are quite effective.”

To learn more about how to properly wear masks, the CDC's approved masks and counterfeit masks, click here.

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