Not all “N95” are the same.
Gaming PC maker Razer has plunged into the world of face shields during COVID, selling paper masks, cloth masks, and its stunt piece, the Razer Zephyr, a portable air purifier that glows with what it says to be “N95 grade filters”. At CES this week, it unveiled a new version, the Razer Zephyr Pro, which amplifies your voice behind the mask.
Following this announcement, my Twitter feed exploded in rage against the company’s âN95â claim. Naomi wu, an influencer in the 3D printing world, argued that having an “N95 quality filter” doesn’t make something an N95 mask. But most people will see that phrase as equivalent to “N95 mask,” regardless of how many fine print disclaimers Razer adds, she says.
“N95 grade filters with two-way protection,” says the Razer’s website.
In the United States, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) at the CDC certifies that N95 respirators “used in the workplace meet minimum standards of construction, performance and respiratory protection.” It also maintains a website of NIOSH approved N95 respirators listed by the manufacturer from A to Z. Razer products are not on the NIOSH list.
In its fine print, Razer acknowledges that the Razer Zephyr and Zephyr Pro “are not medical devices, respirators, surgical masks, or personal protective equipment (PPE) and are not intended for use in medical environments. or clinics “. It also states that although it has “adopted the standards” set out by NIOSH, it has not been certified by the agency.
Razer clearly uses the meaning “N95” here.
When we reviewed the original Zephyr, Razer told us that it was working with a company called Intertek to perform testing for Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE) certification. It has also filed the Zephyr with the FDA, where it appears to seek approval as a “surgical ventilator”. We’ve reached out to Razer for details on this FDA filing and asked about the controversy surrounding its use of the term N95, but have yet to hear back. Wu says she filed a complaint with the CDC.
Much of the problem here is the delicate use of medical and legal terms that the layman cannot be expected to understand. For example, the designation between “adopting standards” and being certified by NIOSH.
On the last day, Razer appears to have added a section to its Zephyr product page comparing its goggle to other security solutions.
I have no way of testing the effectiveness of the masks, but the marketing contradictions make it fishy. It states that the Zephyr is not personal protective equipment (PPE), but at the top of its product page it states that the Zephyr uses “N95 grade replaceable filters for everyday protection.” So if the Zephyr is not PPE, why claim that this personal equipment offers protection? He feels dishonest. Ultimately, the warning below shows that this isn’t the protection that it intuitively appears to be. Unless the mask is properly certified, wearing it might as well be a Fallout cosplay.
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Are you confused by these two boxes? You should be.
I am picky here. Cloth masks with filters are useful, according to several studies, but not at N95 certified levels. I’m mainly carrying a set of failed and overused KF94s which are probably at this point more of a placebo effect than anything else.
But as my mentions have shown recently, a lot of people are concerned about using “N95” here, and Razer’s marketing seems outdated. He should stop using that term.
We will update this story if and when we hear from Razer.
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