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Razer rows back after Zephyr face mask safety rating confusion

Two people wearing the face mask, not complying with social distancing
(Image credit: Razer)
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Thanks to Covid-19, and its latest Omicron evolution, staying safe right now is at the forefront of everyone's minds. As the high risk and the immune-compromised reach for heavier grade protective equipment, safety-minded tech YouTuber, Naomi Wu, noticed something thought potentially misleading in Razers description of its Zephyr face mask.

Naomi Wu recently called Razer out over mentions of the masks N95 designation in much of its marketing material, OnMSFT notes. Wu deemed that the ads could be easily misconstrued, leading people to believe these are medical grade respirators.

This is a worrying concept for high risk individuals as the Razer Zephyr is not a fully N95-rated face mask; it has not gained an official NIOSH certification to prove that it provides full, medical grade protection against Covid-19. Razer has itself said all along the Zephyr is not a piece of medical grade PPE, but the mask does come with N95 grade respirator filters, which the company seems to hang a lot of its marketing around. 

Due to the mask's rigidity, some gaps remain around the seals for many users. These gaps would render any filters void, N95 grade or not.

When Dave took to the streets wearing the Zephyr face mask last year, he explained that "the Zephyr is being billed as a wearable air purifier, and is specifically not a medical grade mask designed to be worn in a hospital setting. So it's more for air pollution than necessarily protection against Covid-19."

This is because the FAQ reviewer's guide clearly states, as it always has, "The Razer Zephyr is not a medical device, respirator, surgical mask, or personal protective equipment (PPE) and is not meant to be used in medical or clinical settings. It is not tested specifically against the COVID-19 virus but offers the same functionality and adequate protection due to its 99% BFE rating."

It's easy to see where confusion has crept in considering Razers relaxed use of phrases such as "N95 Filters with Two-Way Protection - to safeguard you and others around you."

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When Razer responded with plans to remove all mentions of M95 marketing from the Zephyr site, Wu doubled down. The Youtuber's argument being that it's simply too late for that as many people have already been put at risk.

"Media outlets have labeled it an N95 mask, immune-compromised individuals and healthcare workers all over social media are calling it an N95 mask," Wu retaliates, continuing the dismissal over several tweets. One even outlines all the tests Razer's Zephyr mask had not passed before being released.

Tweet from Naomi Wu outlining all the tests the Razer Zephyr should have passed before being labelled an N95 grade respirator

(Image credit: Naomi Wu)
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Since the objections surfaced, Razer has not only recalled videos from its official YouTube channel to do with the Zephyr masks—bar some functional 'how to' content—it also tweeted that it has "taken feedback and guidance from regulatory agencies to establish our testing protocols for the Razer Zephyr and Razer Zephyr Pro." It then links out to its internal test results, in an attempt to reassure customers.

The Zephyr page now also contains an added disclaimer, where the last snapshot on Waybackmachine shows no such clause was readily visible to the public:

"Please observe your local safety regulations and mask guidelines or consult your local public health authorities for potential usability of the product under applicable law.

"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. The product is intended to be used only with Razer Zephyr Filters."

Razer has also now provided us with an official response, though we are awaiting further clarification to some of our questions.

"Razer would like to clarify that while the filters used in the Razer Zephyr Wearable Air Purifier have been tested for 95% Particulate Filtration Efficiency (PFE) and 99% Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE), per the statements on the website and documentation for the product, the wearable by itself is not a medical device nor certified as an N95 mask.

"To avoid any confusion, we are in the process of removing all references to "N95 Grade Filter" from our marketing material. We will also directly reach out shortly to existing customers to clarify. Customers with any further questions about the Razer Zephyr Wearable Air Purifier should contact our Customer Service at https://support.razer.com/."

Katie Wickens

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. She can often be found admiring AI advancements, sighing over semiconductors, or gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been obsessed with computers and graphics since she was small, and took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni. Her thirst for absurd Raspberry Pi projects will never be sated, and she will stop at nothing to spread internet safety awareness—down with the hackers.