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Razer reneges on its claim the Zephyr mask uses ‘N95-grade’ filters
The company claims the change wasn’t prompted by regulatory pressure.
Razer has removed any mention of its Zephyr and recently announced Zephyr Pro smart face masks including “N95-grade” filters from its website and other marketing materials. “The wearable by itself is not a medical device nor certified as an N95 mask,” a Razer spokesperson told Engadget. “To avoid any confusion, we are in the process of removing all references to ‘N95 Grade Filter’ from our marketing material.”
The company’s website now says “Razer Zephyr is not a certified N95 mask, medical device, respirator, surgical mask or personal protective equipment (PPE) and is not meant to be used on medical or clinical settings.” Following the change, Razer claims the Zephyr’s filters are 95 percent effective at filtering out particles and 99 percent effective against bacteria. The company told Engadget it will also notify Zephyr owners of the tweak.
The change comes after YouTuber Naomi Wu wrote a Twitter thread about the wearable over the weekend and publications like PCMag drew attention to Razer’s labeling. In November, Wu posted an extensive review and teardown of the Razer Zephyr in which she said the company’s marketing of the smart mask was “deceptive.” Wu reiterated those claims after the company announced its new “Pro” variant of the Zephyr at CES 2022.
As Wu points out in the video, “N95” is an official certification granted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for respirators that filter out at least 95 percent of airborne particles. It’s a designation that involves an entire mask, not just part of it, and accounts for both fit and filtration. Neither the Zephyr nor the Zephyr Pro is listed on the agency’s website as a NIOSH-approved respirator.
According to Wu, Razer made the change following pressure from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and NIOSH, a claim the company strongly disputes. “Razer has not received any communication from any external agencies on the matter,” the company said. “The change in product descriptions is to ensure there is no confusion with our customers about the certification of the mask as a whole.”
The timing of the reversal comes as public health officials in the US and other countries have called on the public to wear surgical, N95 and KN95 masks, as opposed to a simple cloth mask, to better protect itself from the highly contagious omicron variant. The new coronavirus strain has sent COVID-19 cases soaring throughout much of the world, putting further strain on hospital systems that are already on the edge of burnout.
Update 01/11/22 7:45AM ET: This story was modified after publishing to include a quote from Razer about its contact with external agencies and decision making leading to the changes on its website.