Large share of Dutch face masks found to be faulty
As the use of face masks becomes more widely adopted across the Netherlands, the number of faulty products circulating on the grey and black markets has skyrocketed in recent weeks, various sources told the newspaper AD on Satuday.According to Delft-based technical services firm Kalibra, for example, at least 30 percent of the face masks they examined failed to pass an efficacy test.
The results of face mask testing at Catharina Hospital in Eindhoven went even further, suggesting that a staggering 80 percent of masks on the market do not offer the level of protection which their packaging claims. To make matters worse, one testing organization demonstrated that mask shipments are incredibly inconsistent, with some masks that meet requirements, and many that don't.
Majid el Mortadi, of Utrecht-based Greencycl, said his firm has tested FFP2 masks which had been distributed to a nursing home that did not come close to providing the protection needed. Over 40 percent of the masks his team has tested outright failed. "I'm so shocked by that," he said. "I am convinced that the coronavirus has spread in many nursing homes because the protective equipment was not in order."
Most of the non-medical face masks in the Netherlands where imported en masse from China, and concerns about their quality and the protection they afforded have faced increasing scrutiny. Today, a significant number of these products, as well as locally-produced versions, are being sold by Dutch vendors in non-medical industries, AD reports.
"There has been a proliferation of companies that have suddenly started making face masks," said Peter Ho, professor of Chinese economics and development at the London School of Economics, explaining to the newspaper AD that, in the span of a mere few weeks, "the production of face masks for the whole world has started [in China], but the control is weak. As a result, the market was flooded with defective material."
"If a company in the Netherlands has not been around for twenty years, the chances are high that you will be cheated," added Ho.
In the Netherlands, it remains prohibited for ordinary consumers to buy and sell medical face masks due to shortages. Instead, the RIVM has said that while the use of non-medical face masks is only slightly effective in stopping the transmission of Covid-19, their mandatory use in public transport is nonetheless understandable.