How to Tell an Authentic KN95 Respirator from a Fake: Here’s What You Need to Know

February 8, 2022

The CDC recommends wearing KN95 respirator masks because they provide a higher level of protection than a cloth or procedural mask. But it can be hard to know if the mask you buy is an authentic KN95 mask. According to the CDC, approximately 60% of the KN95 respirators evaluated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 did not meet requirements.

When purchasing KN95 respirators for yourself or your family, consider the following guidelines:

  • Original Packaging is In Good Condition – When you receive your respirators, it should be clear that items are in their original packaging which has not been opened or tampered with.
  • Packaging Includes Company Information – The packaging for legitimate respirators should include company information like the name, physical address, and contact information of the manufacturers in the event you have questions about the product.
  • Packaging Includes Expiration Date – Authentic KN95 respirators should a have a 2 – 3-year expiration date printed on the packaging.
  • Sellers Use “Red Flag” Language – Any website or individual seller marketing their respirators as “legitimate” or “genuine” is likely selling counterfeits.
  • Sellers Make Misleading Claims – Some sellers and websites market their KN95 masks as “Certified KN95 respirator mask, adopted by the CDC”. The CDC calls such statements misleading as the CDC, through NIOSH, does not approve KN95 masks.
  • Masks Should Be Clearly BrandedAuthentic KN95 masks should have the manufacturer’s name and/or logo clearly printed on the mask. Blank masks are often counterfeit.
  • Masks Should Include a Standard Number – Every authentic KN95 respirator will have a respirator standard number printed below the company name. Masks produced after July 1, 2021 use the standard number GB2626-2019. Masks produced before that date use the standard number GB2626-2006. Masks without either number are likely counterfeit.

Confirming the authenticity of the KN95 respirator you purchase ensures that you and your family are protected both from COVID-19 and counterfeit face coverings.

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