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Customs officials have seized over 20 million counterfeit masks since the beginning of the year

April 8, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 49.1%. 2 min read.

Since the start of the pandemic, CBP has seized more than 34 million counterfeit masks, most of them modeled to resemble N95 or KN95 masks. Around 20 million of those masks were caught in 2021, said John Leonard, Acting Executive Assistant Commissioner of the agency's Office of Trade.

(CNN)Millions of counterfeit masks have been seized by Customers and Border Protection (CBP) officials since the start of the pandemic.

But the last few months have seen an "exponential increase" in counterfeit mask seizures, a CBP official told CNN.

Since the start of the pandemic, CBP has seized more than 34 million counterfeit masks, most of them modeled to resemble N95 or KN95 masks.

The counterfeit masks resemble N95 respirators, considered the most effective mask in preventing coronavirus transmission, but don't offer the same level of protection, Leonard said.

CNN reported in February that the agency had seized 14 million counterfeit masks from the beginning of the pandemic to the end of 2020.

That month, the amount of masks officials were seizing "blew up again," Leonard said.

Officials made two notable seizures recently: In February, more than 108,000 fake N95 masks -- marketed using 3M's branding -- were seized in Cincinnati.

Counterfeit masks make up most of the seizures, but CBP officers have also seized around 180,000 unauthorized Covid-19 tests.

Leonard attributes the uptick in counterfeit seizures to the ongoing demand for masks as the pandemic endures.

It's possible, as more of the US population is vaccinated, that the amount of counterfeit masks attempting to enter the US will fall, Leonard said, based on consumer demand.

A true N95 mask has headbands instead of ear loops, which help the mask form a seal against your face.

Per NIOSH, altering an N95 mask in any way could make it less effective, and NIOSH doesn't approve a mask that's been changed or decorated.

And if the seller says the mask is approved for children, it's not -- NIOSH doesn't approve N95 masks for kids.

The full list of NIOSH-approved N95 masks is available through the CDC.

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