Frequently asked questions
Are KN95 masks approved for use in North America?
Due to the severe shortage of N95 mask types in North America, the FDA has recently allowed the importation of Chinese standard KN95 masks into the US. KN95 masks have a similar standard to the N95 standard and will perform similarly when worn properly.
Because many KN95 masks have an earloop design instead of a head strap, they may not seal as tightly as N95 masks. To remedy this situation, it is recommended to use an "earsaver". These small plastic devices effectively turn an earloop style mask into a head strap style, while saving your ears from irritation. Earsavers are available from Mask Depot at a nominal cost.
Note that you may have heard reports that some KN95 mask shipments from China have been rejected by various governments around the world. As a result, a number of manufacturers have been black-listed. Please be assured that Mask Depot only uses manufacturers that have a strong track record of delivering high quality masks that adhere to the specifications they claim. As a Health Canada licensed importer and distributor, we must only distribute masks from manufacturers on approved lists.
Do I need to wear a face mask to protect me from COVID-19 and other viruses?
While originally, various world bodies including the WHO and CDC recommended against wearing face protection as a method of reducing the risks of catching COVID-19, face mask wearing is now either mandatory or strongly recommended in nearly all jurisdictions, including Canada. As the pandemic has progressed, evidence has shown that the virus can be asymptomatic (i.e. people exhibit or feel no symptoms), but is still transmissible in many individuals. Experts are now almost universally recommending face protection for anyone going out in public, in addition to their guidance on handwashing and physical distancing. Additionally, it appears that transmission of the virus has been significantly lower in societies where face mask wearing for illness prevention has been prevalent, like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and Vietnam.
Should I be using a cloth face mask or a disposable face mask?
Due to the onset of COVID-19 and the severe global mask shortage, many jurisdictions have recommended that people wear home-made cloth masks as an alternative to disposable masks. The thinking is that by doing so, people would still have some protection, but medical grade masks could be saved for hospital and other front-line workers.
Mask Depot highly recommends that people wear some kind of face covering when they are out in public and unable to maintain a safe physical distance between other individuals. We firmly believe that the best option for this is to use disposable 3-ply masks. Disposable 3-ply masks are designed to be worn and to be easily breathable, thereby increasing the likelihood that individuals will wear them for longer periods of time. Also, they can be quickly and safely disposed of in sealed bags or containers after use, reducing the likelihood of virus transmission from contaminants on the mask. We do encourage individuals to be environmentally responsible and dispose of masks properly.
Some common issues with "home-made" face masks:
1) There are no standards for home-made or cloth face masks. As a result, you just don't know whether the mask will provide you with much protection.
2) Because cloth face masks tend to be made with more porous fabric, more layers are required to provide adequate protection. This creates a mask that is heavier, hotter and more difficult to breathe in, reducing the likelihood that individuals will wear them, or wear them properly.
3) If you are using cloth face masks, it is recommended that you have several of them and that you wash the ones you have used DAILY. It may be necessary to wear more than one cloth mask a day depending on the environment or who you may have come in contact with. On hot days, cloth masks will often become wet from sweat, reducing their effectiveness and making them uncomfortable to wear. If you are using multiple cloth masks per day, please ensure you have sealable container to put your used masks in to prevent any spread of viruses or bacteria that may have become present on your mask.