Health Canada has issued a public advisory warning of the risks posed by counterfeit 3M N95 respirators.
The health authority said that it has recovered nearly 330,000 fake respirators from Canadian distributors, and detained another 365,000 at the border, since mid-February.
The products have been constructed to resemble legitimate N95s, including through the use of 3M-branding.
“[The counterfeit products] lack any assurance of safety, quality and efficacy,” Health Canada said. “It is illegal to sell or advertise counterfeit health products.”
“The Department takes this issue seriously and will use all available tools to stop these activities.”
To date, Health Canada has recovered counterfeit versions of three 3M models, including the Health Care Particulate Respirator and Surgical Mask 1860, and the 1860S.
As well, false versions of the company’s Aura Health Care Particulate Respirator and Surgical Mask 1870+ have been seized.
The advisory warns that products with quality issues, such as missing straps, strange odours, or blocked valves are likely not authentic 3M respirators.
Other tips for identifying counterfeit products can be found on the 3M’s website.
“Respirators are essential during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the department said.
“Health Canada remains committed to protecting Canada’s supply of legitimate respirators and preventing counterfeit respirators from entering the Canadian supply chain.”