What is the Difference Between N95 and KN95?
The number of particles captured by the masks is the metric most important to users. This metric is the same for both N95 and KN95 respirator helmets. These masks trap 95% of small particles (0.3 micron particles).
What are KN95 masks?
KN95s and the N95s may be closely related. However N95s were approved for use in U.S. hospitals. This is because N95s conform to U.S. standards and KN95s conform to Chinese standards. In both cases, very small particles are filtered out to a level of 95 percent.
Due to a lack of personal protective gear (PPE) in the United States during the pandemic, CDC has approved the use KN95 as an alternative to N95. Still, some KN95-wearers and hospitals voiced concerns about quality.
How does the KN95 Masks work?
KN95 masks can be used in the same way as N95 masks. They are however not subject to the same regulation. KN95 masks are being questioned regarding their effectiveness in surgical environments. (Check this list to verify if the FDA has approved your KN95 emergency medical mask. A September 2020 review of 200 KN95 face masks from 15 manufacturers revealed that nearly 70% didn’t conform to U.S. standards. This raises the risk of COVID-19 for patients, care providers, and healthcare organizations that have imported masks made in China.
What are N95 Masks and How Do They Work?
The N95 respirator is the standard for face coverings in both the medical and construction industries. Unlike surgical masks, these face coverings are designed to fit snugly over your head.
How does N95 Masks work?
The CDC states that N95s are 95% effective against particles smaller than 0.3 microns. This is the particle size for which the masks are least effective. N95s are effective against particles larger than 0.3 microns.
These masks can filter about 99.8 percent of particles with a diameter of about 0.1 microns, according to a February 2017 study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. A review published in eLife in April 2020 notes that SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 is an enveloped viral virus with a diameter of approximately 0.1 microns, so N95s can be particularly useful for this current pandemic.
Differential between N95 and KN95 masks
Both ratings require that masks are tested for their filtration efficiency in capturing salt particles (NaCl). Both are tested at a flow rate between 85 L/minute. However, N95 and KN95 have some differences, which are highlighted here.
KN95 vs.N95 – Highlighted Differences Most of these differences would not be interesting to most mask users. Here are some key differences:
1. For a KN95-certified mask, the Chinese government requires that the manufacturer conduct a special fitting test on real people with less than 8% leakage. Fit tests are not required by the N95 mask standards.
However, this does not mean that fitness tests are ineffective. Many hospitals and companies require that their employees be fit-tested. However, those are requirements of companies themselves, not for the US NIOSH certification on the mask.
2. N95 masks have slightly higher pressure requirements while inhaling. They are therefore slightly less breathable than KN95.
You don’t have to worry about it, even though it is sometimes difficult to breathe through masks. However, you are unlikely to become oxygen starved. N95s also have slightly stricter requirements for pressure drop while exhaling, which should help with breathability.
Bottom Line: What is the difference between N95 vs. N95 Masks?
Both N95s as well as KN95s can capture 95% of particles. There are minor differences. Only KN95 masks must pass fit tests. N95 masks, on the other hand, have slightly higher breathability standards.
Availability of N95 and KN95 Masks
Availability of N95 and KN95 masks can varily greatly depending on location. In the United States, KN95 masks are far easier to get your hands on than N95 masks. KN95 masks are not compliant with NIOSH standards, so healthcare facilities and hospitals cannot use them. Healthcare workers may have N95 masks, while the average consumer will have KN95 masks. This does not mean the KN95 masks are inferior, as long as they are genuine KN95 masks.