COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Billions of pieces of personal protective equipment have been produced since the start of the pandemic, many of which have already been used, saved, or simply thrown out.  

But those stocking up on their own supply could be in for a bit of a surprise as the expiration date approaches for many of those products. 

“Anything that has an FDA approval, needs to have an expiration date,” explains Leo Friedman, the CEO of iPromo.com. 

In March of 2020, many people began stocking up on things like masks, gloves and hand sanitizer. 

But the shelf-life could soon be running out on many of those products. 

“So, masks is two years. Gloves are about 2.5 – 3 years on average, some as low as two,” Friedman warns. 

While studies show hand sanitizer can remain effective for up to five years, COVID-19 tests present an unknow for distributors. 

“Almost 100% of all COVID tests have their expiration dates extended by 3-6 months versus what’s on the box,” Friedman admits, “because they don’t know how long the ingredients of the test last because they’re so new.” 

So, where can consumers find the expiration date? By law, it can be found on the packaging of any FDA approved product.  

But there are other ways to identify compromised PPE. 

“They deteriorate, they rip, they become brittle,” Friedman describes. 

Meaning they become less effective in their protection against COVID-19. 

Friedman’s company shifted production during the pandemic and began shipping millions of units of PPE across the United States and Canada. 

“Billions of masks were manufactured in the spring of 2020, two years ago now, and that’s why it’s becoming such a major issue,” warns Friedman. 

Friedman recommends writing down the expiration date as soon as you receive any shipment of protective gear. 

And double checking any dates before using the product. 

“PPE is always stored, shipped in bulk,” Friedman explains. “And sometimes companies, or even the government who’s buying a lot of these tests, they’ll pick four tests for you or eights tests for you, and even though you think you’re getting a fresh product, it is a new product, but it may have been sitting in a warehouse for a little while. So, check to make sure it’s not expired.” 

Manufacturers suggest that some protection is better than none, they recommend recycling any expired products and equipping yourself with new PPE.