There’s one thing you need to know if you want good face masks to shield yourself from the hazards of COVID-19. As easy as it may be, the place to purchase them is not Amazon.
Yes, Amazon has a dizzying array of choices for defense. And they’ll all claim to be the best face masks you can purchase. But educating yourself about the mask you want to wear is crucial, particularly now. It is unnecessary to cover your nose and mouth with the first thing you can get your hands on. An FDA-registered disposable surgical mask is the best possible face mask you can use, but you won’t even find it on Amazon.
What’s wrong with “surgical” face masks on Amazon?
The response here is simple: there is no way to check if what it appears to be is the product you are purchasing from Amazon.
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For years, Amazon’s growing problem with counterfeit goods has driven customers away from the retail giant. Amazon claims that it has in place anti-counterfeit protocols. Third-party vendors, however, use Amazon Marketplace to sell products and Amazon’s quality control on the products is not successful. This results in mixed inventory, so consumers end up with a mixture of real and counterfeit items. Complaints about fake goods are filled with Amazon feedback.
If you buy yourself a fake Converse pair, it’s a bummer. But if you have a surgical mask that doesn’t offer protection during a global pandemic, do you believe it does? You have a problem—a giant one.
Where you buy surgical masks matters, with all the conflict around which masks on Amazon are genuine and counterfeit. China controls the industry of mask manufacturing and has no government department implementing safety regulations on any goods called “non-medical use,” a phrase you can sometimes see on lists of Amazon face masks. To study the manufacturer, it may be impossible to determine which ones are valid or where the mask was made. Fortunately, those who want to purchase surgical masks in the U.S. have a choice.
What type of face mask should I buy?
Your needs depend on the answer to this question. You need an N95 mask or an FDA-registered surgical mask if you’re a medical professional. There are two options for those outside the medical field who want safe, regular protection: disposable and reusable masks. We suggest disposable masks, specifically surgical masks, if you wish for the best face mask protection. It may not be as trendy (although there are colorful options) as some fabric masks, but FDA filtration requirements are far more stringent. Cloth masks had 2 to 38 percent filter efficiency through research, which is just not enough.
We cannot blame you if you are searching for places to purchase N95 masks. On the market, it’s the most protective face mask. 95% of particulate matter (hence the name) is filtered out by N95 masks and wrapped around the back of your head for a more snug fit. Most individuals equate thicker, cup-shaped N95 respirators with N95 masks; however, they are not mutually exclusive. Due to the N95 mask shortage, neither one is intended for use by the general public.
So, as manufacturers concentrate on meeting key employees’ needs most vulnerable to COVID-19, what is your best option? A mask for surgery.
Thanks to the elastic ear loops, a surgical mask has a much looser fit than an N95 mask to hold it in place instead of wrapping it around the entire head. As N95s do, the nose thread, a flexible plastic-coated metal strip inserted into a mask’s covering, also produces a seal around the nose and mouth. For medical staff unable to get N95s to use surgical masks instead, the FDA recently passed an emergency use authorization (EUA). That is how we know that the next best choice is them.
Best of all, the general public may buy and use these masks. But not all surgical masks are identical, like Amazon’s counterfeit problems that cause inconsistency. You either buy a quality mask that gets filtration of at least 98 percent or buys a defective product. How do you know what to purchase?
What should I look for in a surgical mask?
The best way to know for sure how effective your surgical mask is to buy a computer that checks it for $100,000. Not realistic, huh? Look out for these red flags in that situation.
One, which is FDA-registered, is the best surgical mask to purchase. Make sure that the product, not just the content, is registered. To build a house, you can buy quality lumber, but the house’s quality depends on who’s making it.
Second, the FDA does not allow surgical masks, registering the manufacturers that produce the masks. It only accepts medical products such as pacemakers, breast implants, and N95 respirators in greater danger. So, if a brand says it’s the FDA approves it, be careful. You want to be FDA-registered for the product itself.
Another loophole used by some brands to sell their product is that it is based in the U.S. when they ship masks made overseas to their satellite location. This is incorrect if a company claims to sell KN95—a non-scientific marketing term produced by Chinese manufacturers—masks and claims to be located in the U.S.
The legitimate brands make it easy for you to find more company information to reach out if you want to. Look for images of their manufacturing facilities and statistics. Do they measure the masks and share what percentage is blocked by particulate matter? Is it possible to find records of third-party test results? Are they unclear about mentioning the manufacturer’s name so that you can verify the list registered by the FDA? In the product summary, do they add conflicting language such as “non-medical use”?
It’s probably too good to be true if anything looks fishy. And it’s not worth spending a few bucks to have shoddy safety gear when it comes to battling a worldwide pandemic.
Where can I buy surgical masks?
Overwhelmed? Not alone, are you. Protecting yourself shouldn’t be that hard. And still, there is so much contradictory information out there. The CDC and WHO continue to suggest fabric masks, but WHO further clarifies that there are three layers of the most effective cloth masks, including a middle layer of non-woven material such as polypropylene and an outer layer that is polyester-like non-absorbent.
We suggest Armbrust masks if you would like to avoid the confusion and pick a surgical mask to vet yourself if you want.
As one of just a handful of U.S.-based surgical mask makers, Armbrust was launched in Austin, Texas, in May 2020. It is currently the only one specifically created for customers and, most significantly, makes its third-party mask testing reports available. The masks also boast an ASTM Level II ranking, which is the highest rating a surgical mask can earn. The masks also provide 99.2 percent bacterial and particle filtration.
In a sterile manufacturing plant, the firm manufactures its FDA-registered masks. At some point in the production process, this means that human hands never touch the goods.
Armbrust sells its masks to medical facilities, state and local governments, and the public. With prices starting at just $31.90 a pack, they come in packages of 10 and 50. You may also order by case or send masks in your name to a hospital, company, or non-profit.
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