People are selling 'breathable' masks that don't protect against COVID-19 on Etsy
- Breathable masks made from mesh and other porous materials are being sold on websites like Etsy.
- Many of the designs were created as anti-masks, or face coverings that technically comply with public health guidelines, despite not actually protecting the wearer or those around them from COVID-19.
- Other designs say they were created for events like raves, but appear to have been purchased by those who do not agree with mask mandates that are now common throughout the US.
- In a statement sent to Insider, a representative for Etsy said mask listings are "not allowed to include medical or health claims," and that the company is working to "actively review and remove items that violate" its policies.
People are finding ways to work around mask mandates recently imposed by some businesses and local governments.
On Tuesday, a Twitter user who goes by @shattered_earth shared screenshots from numerous websites where people could be found selling mesh fabrics. While they may technically count as face coverings, because the masks are porous, they cannot effectively protect against spreading or breathing in respiratory droplets that may carry the COVID-19 virus.
The tweet has since been shared by thousands of others, many of whom seem angered by such designs.
But despite viral tweets and complaints from shoppers, websites are still allowing people to sell potentially-dangerous styles online. Here's everything you need to know about the growing anti-mask market.
People are selling masks made from mesh and other porous materials on websites like Etsy
At the time of writing, a search on Etsy for the term "mesh mask" yields more than 4,000 results. Similarly, a search for the term "breathable mask" turns up even more options: more than 71,000 products.
Some of these see-through and lightweight designs were seemingly created as ways to enhance the style of more protective masks. This pink mask from Etsy shop NevaNudeLLC, for example, was designed for raves and festivals, and is meant to be worn "on top of other (not so cool) face coverings," according to its product description.
However, it seems that masks like these created with fashionable intentions are being purchased by those who are against wearing a mask at all.
"I think these mask requirements are ridiculous, so this is the perfect alternative if you want to be able to breathe!" one Etsy shopper commented on the NevaNudeLLC shop. "My daughter was even excited to wear it because of how sparkly and colorful it is."
"Super AMAZING! Very breathable and not suffocating at all," another Etsy shopper wrote. "Definitely a mask to buy if you're looking to get around these mask mandates!"
While the masks may be more comfortable because of their porous design, as the commenters say, any masks with holes cannot effectively protect against spreading or breathing in respiratory droplets that may carry the COVID-19 virus from person to person.
At least one Etsy shop is marketing its masks for 'those who don't agree with the mask order'
An Etsy shop called ProcraftinatingCassy, for example, currently lists this description underneath each of its five designs: "Face covering is not intended to prevent a virus of any kind, it is for those with a sense of humor, those who don't agree with the mask order, and our fellow rebels at heart. If this listing offends you, don't purchase anything....duh."
The product page also lists six "features" of the mask, which include being breathable and meeting "most" face-covering requirements.
People are calling on Etsy to stop allowing shops to sell mesh face coverings and other similar products
At the time of writing, Etsy lists a disclaimer above all masks and face coverings that reads: "Items sold on Etsy, such as masks and hand sanitizers, aren't medical-grade. Etsy sellers cannot make medical or health claims." The message also links to a page about Etsy's safety protocols.
On Twitter, however, some users say the disclaimer is not enough, and are urging Etsy to remove the products entirely.
—Cara (@Cra_Cosplays) July 8, 2020
—Akshay (@JayKayShay) July 10, 2020
—Maybe I'm Dreaming (@Charlottes_Cake) July 8, 2020
In a statement sent to Insider, a representative for Etsy said the company is working to "actively review and remove items that violate" its policies.
"Face masks sold on Etsy are not medical grade, and listings are not allowed to include medical or health claims," an Etsy representative told Insider over email. "While we are not responsible for determining the efficacy of masks listed on our marketplace, we are committed to keeping our community safe and work to actively review and remove items that violate our policies."
There is clear evidence that wearing a mask can prevent the spread of the coronavirus
As Insider's Anna Medaris Miller wrote, "medical masks or cloth face coverings, ideally with three layers, could be a ticket to controlling the coronavirus outbreak — if everyone wore them."
Medaris Miller pointed to a recent UK study which, she wrote, showed that "mandates to wear masks could be enough to contain an outbreak without a lockdown," as well as a case report in which two infected hairstylists wearing masks in Missouri did not transmit the virus while seeing 140 customers (also wearing masks).
While wearing masks helps protect others, Medaris Miller wrote that "a range of new research shows masks protect the wearer, too," citing Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis Children's Hospital, who said wearing a mask can reduce the risk of infection by 65%.
Representatives for Etsy shop ProcraftinatingCassy did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
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