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Problem: There is no more distance learning for most of our children, and that means many of us are sending our young children back to school in person, without the added benefit of vaccines. With the Delta variant everywhere, we want more protection for our kids – cloth masks won’t cut it for many of us. The problem is the apparent lack of legitimate KN95 masks for children.
My daughter has just started her fifth grade, which is the first time she’s been in the classroom since third grade. She is too young to be vaccinated, and with more and more children getting Covid and becoming seriously ill due to the prevalence of the rapidly spreading Delta variant, I want her to get all the protection I can afford her. So I went looking for an N95 mask for my smallest student.
I knew there were a lot fake masks on the market, and I was not interested in buying bullcrap for my baby. (OK, she’s 10, but she’s still) mine baby.) That meant donning my journalist hat and doing research. I finally found brave, a great company that makes FDA-registered, well-fitting KN95 face masks for children.
This is so close NIOSH approved like getting kids masks, because NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health, only deals with products designed for adults to use in the workplace. Children’s products are therefore out of their reach. Because of those technicalities, we depend on the FDA and companies to self-regulate the goods.
FDA registered means once manufactured, it registered with the FDA, so that if it’s recalled — or if it proves ineffective — there’s a process in place for disseminating that information to buyers. This is different from the process of getting FDA-approved or FDA-approved as a medical device, although the two things often go hand in hand. One can and is often the precursor of the other. However, most other masks are not even registered, so the process for a defective product is not standardized. FDA-registered children’s masks are now so close to an official manufacturing process for mask compliance.
The Brave masks are made with five layers of breathable non-woven fabric, with two premium layers providing extra breathability and protection. They are manufactured in such a way that the filaments are randomly transformed into a non-woven fabric, which is a denser but breathable material according to Science Direct. The elastic ear bands are extra soft and the metal nose piece ensures a good fit. They filter and trap 95% of the tiny 0.3 micron particles in the air, according to Brave, and that makes me feel much more confident sending my child back to class.
But besides their safety, and perhaps the most important thing for my daughter, they come in many colors and don’t pinch your ears. Granted, the only color my daughter wanted me to order was black, and that seems to be the general theme of her school wear too, but she loves the option have other colors. (“Mom, I’m not emo, I’m from New York City. You were just goth in high school.”)
And unlike many other KN95 masks, Brave’s masks have a covered nose piece that won’t come off after a few wears. This is a big deal for parents because you want to make sure your kids’ masks fit properly every time they put them on. I’ve found that once you adjust the mask to your child’s face, it’s good to go for the week.
And yes, I take the mask off weekly, because I’m so worried right now. Brave notes that they should be thrown away after each use, but I’m being perfectly honest with you that we don’t, and I don’t think anyone else really does either. It’s a lot of money and a lot of waste. Though brave is doing add an envelope to recycle old masks which honestly makes me feel a whole lot better about using disposables this year.
The masks arrived just a few days after they were ordered, and thankfully they don’t have a chemical industrial smell that really irritates my daughter. Essentially, they smell like paper. They easily loop around the wrist for lunch and for the trip to and from school, and even at the end of the week they don’t look frayed or damaged.
I know we are all afraid of this year. It really is a terrifying time to be a parent. If you give your child a mask like this, you might get a little more comfort and you can take the panic back a hair. Plus, fun colors, right?
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