My personal mask of choice for the past year has been made by the U-Mask, made by the Italian company U-Earth. They’re comfortable and promise to protect you as well as others thanks to their “Bio-Layer” filter promising up to 200 hours of protection. I’ve been trying to buy a replacement filter for the past few weeks but they’ve been sold out. Now, U-Earth has now pulled the U-Mask Model 2.1 completely from their website. Here’s what we know so far.
Italian Health Ministry Ban On U-Mask
The U-Mask Model 2.1 proved popular with many, myself included, because of the comfort and protection the mask offers. No other mask was making claims like the U-Mask did. A built-in filter capable of protecting you for up to 200 hours, a mask that only needs to be washed when visibly dirty, it was perfect.
Or was it too good to be true?
The company has come under fire from Italian authorities claiming the U-Earth is advertising features that the mask doesn’t have certifications to back up. After an initial ban on the sale of these masks in Italy, U-Earth continued to sell their masks and published new research supporting their claims. Specifically, questions were being asked about the protective claims made by U-Mask, both the 200-hours of protection and the comparison of the Model 2.1 to medical-grade PPE.
On the Italian version of the U-Mask website, the company has published a banner stating, they “are sorry to inform you that, in compliance with the Provision of the Ministry of Health notified to the Company on March 26 2021, the U-Mask Model 2.1 mask can no longer be marketed as a medical device until the dispute that the Company is in the process of resolving”.
Interestingly, the same notification does not appear on the European version of the website. From a business point of view, it’s understandable, but given the company is having their credibility and transparency questioned, that raises some additional eyebrows.
U-Mask Suspend International Sales
As I mentioned, I’ve been shopping around for some new filters as mine are approaching their 200-hour limit, so I’ve been on the U-Mask website quite a bit. The filters haven’t been available for weeks, but now all products are marked as “out of stock”. This could be a rush caused by the start of the F1 season, but it does appear far more likely to be caused by the March 26 ruling in Italy.
On March 22, I contacted U-Earth enquiring about the filters and was told they “are are constantly restocking items except for specific collections or limited editions. Therefore if an item is sold out, it is very likely that it will be available again soon”. However, just a few days later, the Italian Health Ministry officially banned the masks and now their entire catalog is sold out.
I’ve reached out to the company for comment. They said, “with a provision of 26 March 2021, the Italian Ministry of Health prohibited the placing on the market of the U-Mask Model 2.1. We consider this decision illegitimate and we are taking every appropriate initiative in this regard. However, the sale of the mask is currently suspended, so we cannot currently process any orders”.
Ferrari Step Away From U-Mask
A lot of this is, understandably, playing out in Italy, so I’m trying to piece together as much of the story as I can. Along with the Italian government banning U-Mask, there is somewhat of a campaign being run by an Italian satirical website, highlighting the areas where the mask’s protective claims are coming up short.
With increasing public pressure, it appears that U-Mask may have lost a massive customer in the Ferrari Formula 1 team, who will apparently no longer use U-Mask. No official statement has been by the team, so I’ve reached out to Scuderia Ferrari for comment. The U-Mask Model 2.1 masks are regularly seen around F1 events since racing got going again last year after an initial pause caused by the pandemic.
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