Welcome to the intra-COVID-19 world. Here, we are creating new questions and definitions, as well as new approaches to the clinical practice of medicine. This is a confusing period for licensed clinicians and providers in the healthcare industry, and is especially confusing (sometimes maddening) to lay Americans.
Not all American consumers can effectively navigate common marketplaces to avoid unsafe personal safety products (PSPs) promoted as safe for use. The federal and state governments should impose time-limited, heightened control over specific categories of PSPs entering the marketplace to exclude PSPs showing adverse variation from national quality and effectiveness requirements. This upstream prevention will minimize downstream saturation by adverse products.
Months into the COVID-19 Pandemic, American marketplaces began selling KN95 respirator masks. KN95 masks ARE NOT N95 respirators, but a similar type of equipment made internationally without restriction from American quality and effectiveness requirements. KN95 masks are not always fit for their intended purpose of filtering 95% of particulate breathed-in by their users. Due to the presence of ear straps and/or filtering face pieces, many KN95 masks are no better than a surgical or cloth mask, and may even be an ineffective means of source control.
Alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR), or hand sanitizer, presents another burgeoning safety risk to the American public. Some hand sanitizers entering our American marketplace from international manufacturers contain potentially toxic amounts of methanol. Hand sanitizer is an essential product used to minimize community spread of COVID-19. It is used regularly in the healthcare setting and should be used regularly by everyday humans, to protect the health of oneself and others. Together, proper hand hygiene and respiration are essential to a healthy life.
Our governments must do more to protect the American consumer’s pursuit of a healthy life. Too much responsibility is placed on the consumers to critically think and distinguish the dangerous and ineffective products from the good. Pre-COVID-19, Americans could approach the marketplace and likely find an N95 respirator or hand sanitizer product compliant with America’s strict manufacturing standards. Now, the opportunities are less likely. The American government must protect its consumer base and do more than offering advice and good luck before purchasing PSPs on the open market.