Masks being imported from China are endangering the lives of Canadians. 

Health Canada issued an import and distribution bulletin warning that some KN95 masks which were manufactured in China “pose a health and safety risk to end users.” 

“Health Canada cannot reasonably conclude that the benefits associated with having the KN95 Filtering Facepiece Respirator available in Canada, as currently labelled, outweigh the risks,” wrote the bulletin. 

When inspected by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the masks were found to have “failed to meet 95% filtration specifications.” 

N95 masks are highly sought after on the world market and crucial in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. They block 95% of particles and viruses and are a standard piece of equipment for protecting frontline healthcare workers. 

The Health Canada bulletin was distributed to companies across the country as a warning that some products which have already been shipped might have to be recalled. 

Tests by NIOSH found that some of the Chinese masks only filtered as little as 1% of particles instead of the 95% required by N95 masks. 

“Manufacturers of concern are only those that failed to meet 95% filtration specifications,” said the bulletin.

This is not the first instance where equipment from China has failed to meet specifications and quality standards. 

Last month, one million masks purchased by Canada and manufactured in China were found to be faulty. 

The spokesman for the Department of Health and Canada’s Public Health Agency (PHAC) Eric Morrisette said that the KN95 masks were unusable in a health care setting.

“To date, PHAC has identified approximately one million KN95 masks as non-compliant with specifications for health care settings,” said Morrisette.

“These items were not distributed to provinces and territories for front-line health care response, and are being subsequently assessed for use in non-health care settings.”

Spain, Turkey, the Netherlands and Australia have also all reported issues with Chinese protective gear.