Healthcare workers and others who rely on respirator masks to protect themselves from airborne bacteria and viruses, including COVID-19, may sometimes purchase their own supplies of personal protective equipment.
Not all respirators are approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Some masks are falsely marketed as being approved by NIOSH. These counterfeit respirators may not protect the wearer from inhaling virus particles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC regularly updates its warning page on counterfeit respirators, which contains examples of counterfeits and a guide to identifying NIOSH-approved respirator masks, as well as links to sites where consumers can verify the approval numbers of certified masks.