A 3M mask is shown in Mississauga, Ont., on Friday, April 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

A 3M mask is shown in Mississauga, Ont., on Friday, April 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Health Canada issues warning for fake N95s, even as public urged not to buy medical masks

Fraudulent N95 masks don’t create a proper seal, aren’t effective

Health Canada is warning people to be careful with N95 respirators after receiving reports of fake masks being sold online.

“Health Canada has received reports that fraudulent and uncertified N95 respirators that falsely claim to protect consumers against COVID-19 are being illegally sold to consumers online and in some stores,” the agency said in a Tuesday (April 14) alert.

Real N95 masks are regulated by Health Canada as Class I medical devices and come from companies with a Medical Device Establishment Licence and are certified by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

“When worn properly, NIOSH-certified N95 respirators are designed to secure a close facial fit and reduce the risk of inhaling hazardous airborne particles and aerosols. The ‘N95’ designation means that when subjected to careful testing, the respirator blocks at least 95% of very small test particles, such as pathogens,” the agency said.

The warning comes even as Canadians are being told to not buy N95 masks but to leave them for healthcare workers. Earlier in April, Dr. Theresa Tam, the country’s chief medical officer, began calling non-medical masks a helpful “additional measure” for asymptomatic Canadians to not pass along COVID-19 to anyone else.

READ MORE: Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

READ MORE: Myth of medical masks drives profiteering in B.C. COVID-19 battle

READ MORE: Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks


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