If you're a hardcore Autoblogger, you've probably noticed our daily deals posts. We search every morning for the most popular automotive products the internet has to offer. Today during our search, we noticed something peculiar. The top-selling "Automotive" product on Amazon was in fact this respirator mask. Now, we check these "bestseller" lists every day, and we've never seen a respirator mask anywhere close to the top. What caused the massive spike in mask sales? Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably already know the answer.
Just yesterday, NBC News reported, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), issued a statement about the coronavirus that originated in China, stating, "It's not so much a question of if this will happen [in the United States] anymore but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness." Naturally, the coronavirus is weighing on the minds of people around the world, and it seems those fears are being reflected in the purchase of any respirator mask that people can get their hands on, including masks intended to protect against spray paint fumes and pesticides.
The official guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to improve your chances of staying healthy doesn't start with respirator masks at all. If you're concerned about your health, the CDC recommends "everyday preventive actions to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, such as avoiding people who are sick, avoiding touching your eyes or nose, and covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue. People who are sick should stay home and not go into crowded public places or visit people in hospitals. Workers who are sick should follow CDC guidelines and stay home when they are sick."
If you feel you must use a respirator, though, the CDC guidelines recommend an N95 FFR (filtering facepiece respirator) mask. To the untrained eye, these masks may just look like everyday surgical masks, but they are different, and the differences are important. Click here for a handy infographic from the CDC where you can learn more.
So why is this Darth Vader-looking mask on Amazon the No. 1 selling automotive product today? Because it's a P95 respirator. The "95" means that it's rated to filter out at least 95% of tiny airborne particulates, just like the N95 masks recommended by the CDC. The P simply means that it's resistant to oil, which the N95 masks are not. Now, we're not doctors here, and we aren't going to pretend to know anything about the efficacy of certain masks against certain viruses other than what we read online, same as you. But the interest in this mask, which is otherwise a pretty obscure industrial product, is an interesting example of how concerned some people are and how the virus is having effects you might not have expected.
Rather than seeing you all walking around wearing paint-booth respirators, we'd rather connect you with the latest information on the virus and the practical ways you can protect yourself. Check out the CDC's coronavirus homepage for all the facts.
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