With the shortage of PPE supply, some have turned to alternatives thinking this would provide adequate protection for them and their employees. One in particular is a face mask that is claimed to be of KN95 standards. It is important to note these facemasks may also be known as “filtering facepiece respirators”.
KN95 is a performance rating which is broadly equivalent to the requirements of European standards for FFP2 facemasks. The difference with a product manufactured to a KN95 rating is the manufacturer self certifies its compliance, there is no independent certification or assurance of their quality and they are often accompanied with fraudulent paperwork.
Testing performed on these facemasks has revealed they would not meet the requirements, including protection against COVID-19. As we cannot be sure of their effectiveness KN95 products must not be used as PPE.
The HSE are urging people to be extra vigilant when purchasing PPE, as these cannot be sold or supplied unless they are CE marked. If a product is CE marked the supplier must be able to prove the CE marking is genuine.
Rick Brunt, HSE’s Director of Operational Strategy:
“The KN95 facemask should not be purchased or used. KN95 has not been a principal source of PPE for the NHS, who has already made the decision not to supply this respirator to frontline clinicians fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
We have found that the lack of independent testing has contributed to their being a substantial quantity of inadequate and poor-quality masks on the market, claiming to comply with the KN95 standard.
We understand a lot of people, mainly in sectors outside of healthcare, have bought these facemasks without realising they are non-compliant. We are concerned that people wearing them are not being protected from breathing in harmful substances in the way they expect. Protective equipment must protect.”