What’s the difference between N95 and KN95 masks?

coronavirus researcher

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With another wave of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak hitting multiple regions, healthcare workers are facing an incredible challenge yet again. In addition to battling a disease without an available cure, they also need to keep themselves protected through the onslaught of new patients.

If you are a frontline worker or manage a healthcare facility, you might be struggling with obtaining a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). But the shortage of equipment such as N95 masks and the availability of substitutes such as KN95 is enough to throw you off course.

Which one of these masks is a better alternative? Which one of them offers more protection? Most of all, which one of them is more accessible during high demand? To help you find answers to these questions, here’s a handy guide to the differences between N95 and KN95 face mask.

The major difference between N95 and KN95 masks is their area of certification

Other than the label itself, one of the significant differences between N95 and KN95 masks is the certifying territory of this PPE.

The N95 is certified for traditional usage by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Whereas the KN95 is the Chinese standard of performance ratings for the same use case.

With that being said, both masks have been authorized for emergency use by different countries during COVID-19. This also includes territories such as the U.S. and Canada that otherwise use the NIOSH standard. As a result, you can easily use KN95 in the North American market as long as it comes from a trustworthy manufacturer.

Some KN95 masks also have an ear loop design, but they are still fit tested

The N95 mask has two headbands that go around the upper back and the lower end of the wearer’s head. This provides wearers with a good fit and doesn’t require them to adjust their masks every so often. This is the only structural mechanism that is available with N95.

On the other hand, the KN95 masks come with multiple options. While some of these masks have the dual headband design, others have an ear loop structure. This provides you with various options to choose from according to your personal preference.

With that being said, it is advised by health agencies that you go for KN95 masks with a headband design for optimal protection and minimal adjustment. Since all KN95 masks are fit-tested, this ensures that you are able to get uncompromised safety, especially in COVID-19 treatment settings.

Apart from these distinctions, both N95 and KN95 masks serve the same purpose

Aside from these differences between N95 and KN95 masks, both masks deliver the same level of safety.

Both facepieces come with the same protection

Both of these masks are classified as filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs). They form a seal against the wearer’s face and deliver excellent particulate filtration features. As a result, they can block up to 95 percent of harmful contaminants such as dust, fume and mist.

They provide incredible protection against viral agents

The virus that causes COVID-19 is 0.1 micron in diameter. But it latches onto bigger particles to transmit through the air. Since both masks can filter particles of up to 0.3 microns in size, this allows them to provide extensive protection to healthcare workers.

They are both to be used by healthcare workers during COVID-19

Since both masks provide a seal against the wearer’s face and filter the air they breathe, they are ideal for healthcare workers in COVID-19 treatment settings. However, since they don’t rapidly filter the air being exhaled, they are not meant for the general public.

Even with all their similarities, KN95 masks are comparatively more accessible than N95 due to their rapid manufacturing and distribution. If you purchase these masks through a reliable vendor, you can rest assured in obtaining ideal protection for yourself and your healthcare facility during this difficult time.


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