With such similar-sounding names, distinguishing N95 from KN95 masks can be difficult. How are KN95 masks different from N95 masks? This post will describe it in detail comparing N95 and KN95 masks.
In a nutshell, N95 mask are the US standard for respirator masks, while KN95 masks are the Chinese standard. According to 3M, it is "logical to consider" China's KN95 masks to be "comparable" to US N95 masks. Europe's (FFP2), Australia's (P2), Korea's (KMOEL), and Japan's (DS) mask requirements are likewise extremely similar.
What are the similarities between N95 and KN95 masks?
Numerous consumers are mainly concerned about the particle capture rate of the masks. N95 and KN95 respirator masks are equivalent in this regard. Both masks are capable of capturing 95% of minute particles (0.3-micron particles, to be exact).
Distinctions between the N95 and KN95 Masking Standards
Since N95 masks and KN95 masks are rated to capture 95% of 0.3-micron particles, many people believe that masks cannot collect particles smaller than 0.3 microns. If that were true, it would make no sense that masks prevent virus transmission so effectively.
N95 vs. KN95 Masks: What's the Difference?
Both ratings demand that masks undergo filtering effectiveness testing for salt particle capture (NaCl). Both systems are evaluated at an 85 L/minute flow rate. There are, however, certain distinctions between N95 and KN95, which are indicated below.
The majority of these distinctions are minor and unimportant to the ordinary mask user. However, the following points highlight the significant distinctions:
1. To obtain certification as a KN95 mask, the Chinese government demands that the producer do a unique mask fit test on actual humans with an 8% leakage rate. Manufacturers are not required to conduct fit tests under the N95 standard. This does not negate the value of fit tests. Numerous hospitals and businesses mandate fit-testing of their employees. Those, however, are company-specific standards, not requirements for the mask's US NIOSH certification.
2. N95 masks require a somewhat higher pressure drop during inhalation. As a result, they must be slightly more permeable than KN95 masks. Do not be alarmed, even though breathing via masks can be challenging at times, death from oxygen deprivation is extremely uncommon while wearing a mask.
3. Additionally, the N95s have significantly stricter standards for pressure drop during exhalation, which could improve breath ability. Certain N95 masks subjected to testing failed to meet the required standards.
Smart Air analysed 31, KN95 mask that are currently available on the market, all of which are manufactured in China. To determine the number of particles passing through each mask, we used a wind tunnel and a Met One particle counter. Thirteen of the thirty-one masks tested failed to full fill the N95 criteria, with some falling significantly short.
When shopping for a KN95 or N95 mask, keep in mind that not all brands are created equal. By sticking with established companies, you can increase the likelihood that the mask satisfies the KN95/N95 standard.
Conclusion: N95 vs. KN95 Masks: What's the Difference?
Both N95s and KN95s have a 95% particle capture rate. Among the small distinctions, only N95 masks must pass fit testing, whereas KN95 masks must meet slightly stricter breath ability standards.
Availability of N95 and KN95 Masks
N95 and KN95 masks are widely available in different parts of the world. KN95 masks are significantly more accessible than N95 masks in the United States. Because KN95 masks do not comply with NIOSH regulations for face masks, hospitals and healthcare facilities are required to utilize only N95 masks. As a result, N95 masks may be retained for healthcare personnel, leaving a greater supply of KN95 masks available to the general public. This is not to say that KN95 masks are inferior; as long as they are authentic KN95 masks, they are not.
N95/KN95 Masks and Omicron Update from the CDC in 2022
The more contagious COVID-19 omicron strain has heightened awareness of more effective masks such as N95 and KN95. The CDC amended its masking guidelines in January 2022, indicating that N95 and KN95 respirators "provide the best level of protection." Additionally, the CDC stated that individuals can use these respirators daily and that there is little fear about supply shortages, as previously stated.