A new study claims that up to 70% of KN95 face masks, imported from China, don't meet the United States health standards. It explained that these masks could endanger the lives of patients and even health care workers.
KN95 should be capable of filtering out 95% of viral particles in the air people breathe, as the name suggests. This face mask is the Chinese version of the N95 model, the face-covering officially certified by the U.S. authorities.
However, the recent testing conducted by an independent medical product evaluation found that among almost 200 KN95 masks imported from China, 60% to 70% don't live up to the packaging claims, making them significantly inferior.
The study analyzed masks from 15 Chinese manufacturers that supply major U.S. health systems and hospitals. Pennsylvania-based ECRI Institute, a patient safety advocacy group, released the results on Sept. 22.
After what they found out, the ECRI was forced to issue a hazard alert. Marcus Schabacker, ECRI's President, and CEO said that this kind of alert is commonly used for serious situations that health care professionals need to know about immediately.
The CEO said that they started testing the KN95 masks in April, at the request of medical facilities that have begun sourcing from the Chinese suppliers.
Chinese manufacturers suddenly appear during the pandemic
Thousands of Chinese manufacturing startups emerged to serves as sources of medical supplies since there's a dire shortage during the ongoing pandemic. The institute said that KN95 masks have been among the most prevalent medical products imported to the U.S.
Right now, there are almost 35,000 mask suppliers in China, as stated by Schabacker.
"We're finding that many aren't safe and effective against the spread of COVID-19," he said.
"Health care providers need to "do more due diligence before purchasing masks that aren't made or certified in America," he added.
ECRI discovered another defect of the Chinese product. The advocacy group found that the face masks have ear loop straps instead of the head or neckband design to secure the cover even more against the user's face.
The headband design is also required by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the United States federal agency that supervises workplace safety.
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Written by: Giuliano de Leon.