How to Tell if Your Mask is Real Protection or A Dangerous Counterfeit

I have been wearing counterfeit N95 masks for months and didn’t know. After I learned my masks were counterfeit I spotted a Facebook friend’s picture of themself wearing the same vulnerability. Is your N95 mask real or a counterfeit ineffective against protecting you and others from COVID-19? Do you wear a KN95 mask mistakenly thinking it’s a N95 mask? Airborne respiratory droplets containing COVID-19 expelled by talking, sneezing, singing, shouting, a sneeze, cough, or heavy exhale can pass through, and/or around, counterfeit N95 and KN95 masks.

CNN reports that counterfeit N95 masks continue to inundate the US. Between the time the pandemic began to the end of 2020, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized over 14.6 million counterfeit face masks entering the US.

N95 masks are certified by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIOSH-approved N95 masks are considered the gold standard in personal protective equipment because they block 95% of large and small particles utilizing a unique electrostatic filter.

Counterfeit N95 masks are in abundance because there’s a shortage of authentic NIOSH-approved N95 masks. A low supply of N95 masks has prompted the CDC to advise the general public on mask alternatives and guidelines .  N95 masks are to be prioritized for use by health care professionals but NIOSH-approved N95 masks are available to the general public at retailers including Home Depot. Counterfeit masks are also for sale and sold in large numbers at retailers and online. So how can you tell the difference between an authentic NIOSH-approved N95 mask from a counterfeit mask sold as a NIOSH-approved N95?

How To Tell If Your Mask Is Real or Not (from CDC.org):

NIOSH-approved respirators [masks] have an approval label on or within the packaging of the respirator (i.e. on the box itself and/or within the users’ instructions).  You can verify the approval number on the NIOSH Certified Equipment List (CEL) or the NIOSH Trusted-Source page to determine if the [mask] has been approved by NIOSH.  

Signs Your Mask May Be Counterfeit:

  • No markings at all on the mask
  • No approval (TC) number on the mask or headband
  • No NIOSH markings
  • NIOSH spelled incorrectly
  • Claims for the of approval for children (NIOSH does not approve any type of respiratory protection for children)
  • Presence of decorative fabric or other decorative add-ons (e.g., fabric indentations, decorative stitching, sequins)
  • The mask has ear loops instead of headbands

After reading those last two indicators (decorative fabric, and ear loops) I sprinted to my mask drawer.

My masks were were not NIOSH-approved masks.

My mask:

Image courtesy Paul Russell / Beach4 Productions

CDC counterfeit example:

Image courtesy of CDC

A vented mask I wore earlier in the pandemic was also displayed on the CDC website as counterfeit.

Below is a photo of me, spring 2020, waiting in line at Chipotle while wearing a vented mask. This was prior to the CDC advising against mask with vents. Vents permit passage of respiratory droplets. An added vulnerability is the mask was a counterfeit N95 manufactured in China.:

Image courtesy of Paul Russell / Beach4 Productions

CDC counterfeit example:

Image courtesy of CDC

CDC example of a NIOSH-approved N95 mask:

Image courtesy of CDC

My new N95 NIOSH-approved mask (purchased at Home Depot):

Image courtesy Paul Russell / Beach4 Productions

The CDC website has more images, advisories, and detailed descriptions to assist the public to identify counterfeit masks versus NIOSH-approved masks.

Two Masks = COVID Prevention Chic:

  • The CDC now says double masking can help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • New research shows that tight-fitting, multi-layer masks provide more protection against respiratory droplets, which drive the spread of COVID-19, than less secure options.
  • Doctors explain the reasoning behind wearing two masks—plus how to ensure that your mask meets the new standards.

For more than a month, while wearing the unknowingly vulnerable KN95 mask, I doubled masked. I continue to double mask but with my new masks including a NIOSH-approved N95.

Image courtesy Paul RUssell / Beach4 Productions

Vaccinated? To Mask or Not to Mask? That is The Question:

While mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have demonstrated high efficacy at preventing severe and symptomatic COVID-19, there is currently limited information on how much the vaccines might reduce transmission and how long protection lasts. In addition, the efficacy of the vaccines against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants is not known. At this time, vaccinated persons should continue to follow current guidance to protect themselves and others, including wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds, avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands often, following CDC travel guidance, and following any applicable workplace or school guidance, including guidance related to personal protective equipment use or SARS-CoV-2 testing.

Visit the CDC website for determining counterfeit masks and NIOSH-approved masks, as well as double-mask guidelines, and safety protocols for vaccinated individuals.

Mask not what your country can do for you – mask what you can do for your country.

ABOUT PAUL RUSSELL – PAUL RUSSELL CASTING

Paul Russell is as an award-winning casting director, director and the author of NEW & EXPANDED edition of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a WOrking Actor. He’s cast for 20th Century Fox, HBO, Broadway, and regional theater. Featured in American Theatre Magazine, Paul has directed premiers, and at the Tony-award recognized Barter Theatre. He teaches master classes at university BFA and MFA actor training programs, and privately online with actors globally. Paul began his career in entertainment as a successful working actor.


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BOOK DISCOUNT:
To get the biggest discount available for NEW & EXPANDED edition of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor visit: http://www.ActingMakeItYourBusiness.com

ONLINE CLASSES, PAUL RUSSELL CASTING, & MORE:
Visit Paul, Paul Russell Casting, his directing projects, books, and more @ PaulRussell.net.

How Actors Motivate and Unite Us – The Actor’s Role in Life as The Idealist.

“Something is stirring, shifting ground
It’s just begun
Edges are blurring, all around
And yesterday is done”

Our Time
MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG
Stephen Sondheim

Dr. Nicola Davies, a Senior Medical Writer with a PhD in Health Psychology, and BSc in Psychology wrote in 2012 that an “identifying trait” of an Idealist is:  “Their outlook on the future is always optimistic; the world can and will become a better place…”

Sixty-six years prior to Dr. Davies’s learned musings a songwriter—unable to write or read musical notation and possessing only two years of formal education—penned a tune for a community he knew well:

“There’s no people like show people, they smile when they are low…

You get word before the show has started that your favorite uncle died at dawn

Top of that, your pa and ma have parted, you’re broken-hearted, but you go on…”

Written for the musical Annie Get Your Gun, “There’s No Business Like Show Business” was composed by Russian-born immigrant, (Israel Baline) Irving Berlin. His “pa” died when Berlin was eight years old. As Berlin wrote, “but you go on,” Berlin he did despite many challenges to become an American master composer. His songs which include, “Blue Skies,” “Happy Holidays,” “White Christmas,” and “God Bless America” ring with an idealist’s optimism.

“There’s No Business Like Show Business” has become an unofficial anthem for an expansive ensemble of Idealists: show people. People committed to living their profession’s purpose to elevate and enrich the human spirit and condition. Placing “we” before “me.” We turn to show people for rejuvenation when our idealism is depleted.

Dr. Davies suggests we are drawn to Idealists, “because they will go out of their way to help people, and not just their friends.”

People of “show” play a role in protecting the “we” from deleterious mental health according to research.

Edgar Jones, professor of the history of medicine at King’s College released research on the effect of entertainment (show people) has on UK’s armed forces morale and psychological health during conflict. As reported by the BBC: “Professor Jones says studies show that as morale falls, psychological disorders rise…. ‘Morale is so important. It drives what you do and the way you do it. When morale falls off you lose determination, and that’s contagious,’ he said.”

During the COVID pandemic the morale of the world “fell off.” We turned to show people via our phones, computers, and TVs. Show people smiling despite their own morale being near mortally wounded. The business of show was (and nearly continues to be) decimated. To a point of there being no business to employ show people. Hollywood came to a standstill. Broadway, since March 2020, remains dark until at least the end of May 2021. Live, in-person, audience-attended, entertainment (theater, dance, music, comedy) is mostly in stasis. But within the ensemble of show people idealism/optimism persevered. Show people found new ways via video platforms to enrich and elevate our human spirit and condition. Creating solutions to challenges is necessary for the idealistic show person’s reality. Show people live a profession that encounters, almost daily, debilitating challenges professionally and personally. Yet many show people push forward with idealism.

Without show people’s idealism, its game over for them, and for the “we.”

Related: Being an Actor Means Maintaining Idealism

From the New & Expanded Edition of,

ACTING: Make It Your Business
– How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor

Chapter 2
Being An Actor – A Tough Love (excerpt, pg. 80)

Do you recall that initial flush of joy following the first audition you aced or during the applause of your first bow taken alone? When your first thoughts of being a professional actor had no obstacles? Possibilities seemed endless? That is idealism. Holding onto your early wonderment is the greatest perpetual challenge an actor faces. Lose your idealism and you lose yourself. Game over.

Idealism is both a burden and an asset on our journeys as artists. We must lug the load of enthusiasm upon our backs when the trail rises. And we ride idealism’s joys on leveling plains and gently rolling downgrades. Dismissive civilians, unsupportive family or friends, and criticizing peers often weigh down our idealism by loading on us doubt-provoking comments such as “What’ve I seen you in lately?” “How come you don’t have an agent?” “Why don’t you have a better agent?” “Why aren’t you famous?” and “When will you grow up and get a real life?”

But the dangerous comments that lessen an actor’s idealism come not from others but can come forth from within the actor. Thoughts like “What is my career?” “Where am I going?” “How much longer until I reach . . . wait . . . what am I reaching for?” “Do I know? I think so. But my sight is sometimes blurred by a blizzard of doubt.”

Doubt kills idealism. An actor must slaughter the assailing dissent before it murders your dreams. Kill the doubt. To keep your idealism alive—that joy you had when first beginning your career—you must cease thoughts, words, and actions that plot to diminish your wonder.

For any actor to succeed, he or she must recall during times of doubt why they first began acting as a journey. What was the lighted joy that sparked the imagination illuminating you forward? Idealism’s flame will flicker during gusts of despair. Protect the flame from crosswinds that threaten to extinguish the glow. No one else but you can keep lit the lantern that is your idealism.

ABOUT PAUL RUSSELL – PAUL RUSSELL CASTING

Paul Russell has been in the entertainment industry for over forty years as an award-winning casting director, director and the author of NEW & EXPANDED edition of ACTING: Make It Your Business. He’s cast for 20th Century Fox, HBO, Broadway, and regional theater. Featured in American Theatre Magazine, Paul has directed premiers, and at the Tony-award recognized Barter Theatre. He teaches master classes at university BFA and MFA actor training programs, and privately online with actors globally. Paul began his career in entertainment as a successful working actor.

Visit the NEW & EXPANDED edition of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor!
http://www.ActingMakeItYourBusiness.com

Visit Paul & Paul Russell Casting @ PaulRussell.net.

http://www.ActingMakeItYourBusiness.com