Its pretty tough to get genuine N95 masks. This post is written just so you can gain some help into this problem. Sometimes the production of an article cannot keep pace with its demand. Fraudsters do not relent even if demand and supply are well-balanced. They have to cheat the consumers, which they do throughout the year. Some days of the year are very polluted compared to the rest of the year. N95 respirators are seeing great shortages as governments are prioritizing them for health professionals. Whether genuine or fake masks have seen a huge rise in sales due to the Coronavirus. Masks from any company or seller are selling off. There’s this company- 3M whose products are very popular worldwide. 3M is an authorized manufacturer of NIOSH approved respirators. One such respirator is the 3M 8210 mask.
The current surge in demand for respirators is without any precedent. Counterfeit N95 masks are flooding the market. The best way to be sure of an N95 mask is to buy it from a 3M authorized seller. In this post, I’ll let you know how to know the expiry date of a N95 mask too.
3M 8210 Mask – N95
3M 8210 is one of the most widely known and worn N95 masks in the world. Its around since decades and has many distributors across nations. We’ll let you know how to test your 3M mask is genuine or fake ahead in the article.
VENUS – ORIGINAL NIOSH N95 MASKS
I know you would face difficulties in getting original 3M masks in the market and even online. I too faced this difficulty, when I stumbled across Venus N95 masks on Amazon. They offer a wide range of masks from N99, N95, FFP1, and FFP3 masks. The best part is they are always available and never out of stock.
HOW TO TEST FOR ORIGINAL VENUS MASKS
You may not have heard of Venus as a mask making company. For this reason it becomes important to introduce you to it. Venus is perhaps the only Indian mask maker which has been certified by NIOSH. This is the only agency which grants N95, N99 certifications to mask manufacturers.
You can see for yourself that Venus masks feature in the official USA CDC (Center For Disease Control) website by referring to this URL
Refer to the Venus mask image above, you see TA-84A-5631 written over its valve. Just go to this American CDC website, as can be seen in the screenshot above, you see that it is mentioned on their website. Hence, it is a genuine N95 mask. Similarly you can check whether other mask brands you see on Amazon or other online marketplaces. I bet you won’t find a trace of 99% of those brands which claim to be selling N95 masks.
Which Particles 3M 8210 Protects Against?
3M 8210 is an N95 respirator. This means it is proven to be effective at stopping atleast 95% of all particles sized 0.3 microns or larger. Furthermore, a N95 respirator is good at filtering not just dust particles, but many other non-oily particles. It can stop particles generated from-
- Grinding flour, coal etc.
- Sawing wood
- Processing minerals
- Pollen, etc.
Beside these particles, 3M 8210 mask can be used as a protection against biological particles. Micro-organisms like bacteria, mold can be stopped from entering the wearer’s breath. In epidemics or pandemics, N95 masks from 3M are what WHO recommends.
Is P95 Better Than N95? Read N95 Vs P95 Masks
Lets Look At 3M 8210 Closely
As you can see the 3M 8210 is cup-shaped. This is purposeful as this provides a close fit and good seal. A mask however good quality it may be, it is of no use if it does not fit the wearer well. You see many good looking masks with designs and colors printed on them. 3M masks do not have too good looks because they are a serious deal. All that glitters is not gold!
3M 8210 masks have advanced electrostatic media technology. Infact, all masks use electrostatic charging to arrest the particles. The material is light-weight and offers little breathing resistance. The straps are welded to the mask for a firm and durable hold. The straps are stretchable.
Often, the noseclip is which makes or breaks a mask. If the nose clip is not well-designed, the mask would not have a good seal. 3M 8210 has soft nose pads with a foam touching the nose. The noseclip is adjustable and molds into the shape of the nose. The noseclip is so designed that it evenly distributes their pressure points. So, there is no pinching or discomfort in wearing the mask.
HOW TO CHECK 3M MASK IS GENUINE OR FAKE
Unfortunately, many unscrupulous and shady people have started misusing the popularity of 3M masks. You can save your money by not falling for fake products and returning them in the nick of time. The first thing you should do when a 3M mask is delivered to you is to check its genuineness.
You should do a preliminary check like this-
- How was the mask delivered? If you get it loosely without any product box, chances are strong that its fake! 3M masks come in proper packaging and plastic wrapped.
- What is the first impression you get after opening the respirator? If you find the finishing of the mask is poor then check further.
- Are the straps not welded properly or in the worst case, any of them is missing?
- Wearing the mask feels smelly and uncomfortable.
- The mask material seems thin and unimpressive.
- The stamping is poorly done and has spelling mistakes. There cannot be spelling mistakes in original 3M masks.
- Incase of masks with nozzles, see from the inside of the mask. A genuine mask would have a orange color as against a yellowish hue in a fake mask. Although this is not a fool-proof way anymore. The cheaters are now making even better looking masks than the original!
If your mask fails the above checks, remind at what cost did you purchase the mask/masks. Dirt cheap masks should spark suspicion as standard masks do not come so cheap.
What To Do Next?
If you have the new packaging box, you are somewhat lucky. 3M has recently changed the packaging and introduced some safety features. There is a seal tape which changes color when the box is tilted. There’s a website from 3M under the 3M Safe Guard Program. Each box of 3M 8210 masks now have a Secure code and a Lot Code. These codes can be seen at the bottom of the box.
Check for the Secure code and Lot no on the mask package. Enter these details in the website.
Review the result and proceed accordingly. If the test passes, you can be assured of the efficiency and quality of your mask. If the mask fails the validation test, then ask your seller for a return.
Note that I had reused the Secure Code more than once, that’s why this test failed. For your new mask, it would indicate a counterfeit N95 mask.
HOW TO CHECK FOR EXPIRED 3M N95 MASKS
Like anything else that is sold, masks too have a shelf life. The mask material may degrade if unused for many years. Mostly, masks have a 5 year shelf life. 5 years when the mask is in safe storage and away from direct exposure to dust and chemicals. Here’s how to test mask expiry.
- Look at the “Lot Number” printed on the mask to know its date of manufacturing.
- For example – Lot# A15157 may be printed on your mask.
- Ignore the first alphabet (A in this example).
- The following 2 digits denote the Year of manufacturing. “15157″ in the lot number means the mask is made in 2015.
- The next 3 digits denote the day of the year (out of 365 days). “15157” means the mask is mode on 157th day of the year. This means the date is 6th June.
- So, now you know the complete date of manufacturing – 6th June 2015.
This CDC website URL is a good resource to find out fake masks and sellers.