Doctor: A T-Shirt is better than some KN95 masks

BROCKTON — Monday night, Boston 25 News first told you about an e-mail that was sent out to Brockton Police officers about KN95 masks that were given to them from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

The masks were shipped from China, and test results on the filtration were far below what they were advertised. Since the story aired, many people have reached out to Boston 25, asking us for more information about the China made KN95 masks.

“We’ve purchased millions of pieces of masks, and we had them tested at MIT,” said Gov. Charlie Baker during Tuesday’s briefing.

Boston 25 obtained the email that was sent to Brockton police officers about the results from MIT experts about these KN95 masks that were made in China.

It read, in part, that the masks should have a filtration efficiency of 95 percent, but they tested at 28.1 percent.

We reached out to MIT, but they declined comment, saying: “We are not able to arrange an interview, but encourage you to connect with state public health officials.”

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency also declined our request for an interview.

“There are a lot of different brands that came in under generic categories, that’s why we went and did the testing," said Gov. Baker.

Dr. C. Michael Gibson, a cardiologist at Beth Israel Hospital and a Harvard professor, reviewed with Boston 25 the eight different types of KN95 masks on the state’s website, under the distribution of PPE section.

“Here you see three tests at the top that say 90-92 filtering out the particle. That’s close to, not the real 95 we are looking for,” he said when referring to one mask.

“You will see some in the 80 percent range,” he said. “Here the Foshan wei, scroll down, here unlabeled bag, that’s the one we are worried about, (with) 28 percent filtration. A T-shirt does better than this mask,” said Gibson.

Several front line workers reached out to Boston 25 asking what they should do with these masks.

“Twenty-three percent filtration instead of 95 percent, not good. They are on the front lines, they are dealing with high viral loads. They deserve better protection," said Dr. Gibson.

When asked what N95 means, Gibson said: “If you shot a 100 particles at the mask, it would get rid of 95 percent of the particles, and only particles would get through.”

Gibson said these KN95 masks made in China should not be used by first responders or health care workers. Instead, they can be used at home, or even at the grocery store.

MEMA sent these KN95 masks out to thousands of organizations across the state.

When asked what first responders should do with the mask, now that they have it, Gibson said: "The same problem happened in Kansas City, they recalled 48,000 of these KN95 masks, probably a good idea to recall them, and substitute real N95 masks."

The link to the KN95 masks that were provided in Massachusetts can be found here.

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