It’s the only way to know — for sure — if you’re protected
Knowing your mask is worth wearing means having it tested.
Gaye Moffett has been conducting these tests for more than 20 years and has fit-tested more than 50,000 people. She learned how in 2003 when the original coronovirus landed in Canada: SARS.
It’s one reason her staff were outfitted with masks that met that standard throughout the pandemic, but Moffett says this test isn’t just for healthcare providers.
GEM will test anyone who wants to ensure their mask has the quality and fit they need to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Which mask do I need?
The key to ensuring your mask works is material and fit.
Cloth masks — as well as the blue surgical masks — won’t cut it.
What you need is an N95 mask that has been fitted to your face. Moffett recommends 3M manufactured N95 masks, the company that invented the test during SARS.
She cautions against using similar products, but says some can still work with an adjustment.
“While the KN95 masks can be effective, we found that the straps were failing,” said Moffett. “But if it’s what you have on hand, you can wear an ear protector to extend the life of the straps and make it more comfortable.”
How do I know if my mask works?
There are two aspects to a functioning mask: materials and fit.
The test 3M invented for their own products involves using a spray that doesn’t smell very good.
“It’s Bitrex, the same non-toxic but bitter-tasting substance people use to stop biting their fingernails,” said Moffett.
Anyone wearing a cloth or blue surgical mask can detect the bitter scent because those masks don’t provide an adequate seal.
And if someone wearing an N95 mask can smell it, there’s a problem with fit.
Who can get their mask tested?
During the pandemic, GEM tested masks largely for healthcare and construction workers.
Today, people who need the test may be living or working with someone who’s vulnerable to COVID, or vulnerable themselves.
That’s why any member of the public can get their mask tested for a fee. Getting tested costs $64.50 if you bring your own mask, and $70 when you buy a mask from GEM.
“The entire process takes 20 minutes from start to finish,” said Moffett.
The only masks GEM tests are:
- 3M™ full and half 6100 mask series
- P100 North full and half mask Series
- Scott AV 3000 respirator
Contact GEM to set up an appointment with their mask-fitting clinic on Tuesdays and Fridays.