How well do N95 and KN95 masks protect against COVID-19?

by Sandeep Sohi on January 21, 2022

Face masks are still in use two years after the epidemic began, which most of us could not have predicted in February 2020.

Nowadays, wearing a high-quality face mask is more critical than ever to restrict the spread of COVID-19 variants.

Even if you've had your vaccine, medical professionals recommend wearing a face mask to avoid the transmission of COVID-19, the Delta variant, the new Omicron variant, and other potentially dangerous viruses in the air. Besides, officials advise that you shouldn't take off your masks just yet, even though Covid shots are presently being administered around the country. This is especially true if you're in crowded areas or planning to travel.

The public is aware that not all face masks are created equal, and there is a distinction to be made between healthcare respirators and fabric face masks. As the epidemic continues, high-filtration respirators such as N95s are rediscovering popularity due to their ability to filter out remarkably improved particles than a cotton cloth or surgical mask.


What are KN95 masks, and how do they differ from N95 masks?

Due to their similar names, it might be difficult to tell the difference between the N95 and KN95 masks. This helpful blog discusses the similarities and differences between N95 and KN95 masks.


Similarities And Differences

N95 and KN95 masks are meant to be worn over the mouth and nose and are constructed of numerous layers of synthetic material. You secure the mask behind your ear with straps. Both masks filter and catch 95% of the airborne 0.3-micron particles.

N95 masks defend against nanoparticles as tiny as 0.3 microns, and while the COVID-19 is only around 0.1 microns in size, it's generally linked toward something bigger, such as droplets produced by daily activities like inhaling and conversing.

The sturdy material construction of the N95 masks prevents airborne particles from entering your mouth and, nose thanks to many layers of non-woven fabric and melted blown cloth.

Further, one should always examine how well a respirator fits and read the manufacturer's recommendations before purchasing. These instructions should include putting on, handling, cleaning, and discarding the equipment appropriately. The authenticity of respirators is shown by markings on the product, such as the relevant N95 symbol and KN95 label.

Also, respirators must establish a seal against the face in order to function effectively. Gaps in the mask's borders can allow air with respiratory droplets to slip in and out; these gaps can occur when a respirator is chosen incorrectly in terms of size or kind.

N95 masks are thoroughly tested and certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which is part of the CDC. Meanwhile, companies that manufacture KN95 masks can apply to the FDA for an emergency license for a foreign certification that fulfills the 95 percent filtration criterion. According to the FDA, the maker of KN95 masks must also give paperwork proving that the covers and components used are genuine.

The primary distinction between the two is which nation or institution has verified the masks' quality standard.


N95 Masks

N95 masks have been in demand since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Because of elastic headbands and an adjustable metal band over the nose, these masks are designed to produce an extraordinarily tight seal over the nose and mouth. That is one of the reasons for their success.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health conducts a thorough examination and certification process for N95s.

N95s aren't as scarce as they were in the early days of the pandemic, so if you can find one, you could use it. Consumers may opt to use a simple disposable N95 respirator for household use.


KN95 Masks

N95 masks' Chinese equivalents are known as KN95 masks. Many people appreciate them because they have a tent-like design that generates a little pocket of air between your nose and the fabric: They're a little easier to breathe through than N95s, and they're less obstructive and suffocating.

Nevertheless, because KN95 masks are not monitored by the US mask-regulating authority, NIOSH, finding reputable manufacturers can be difficult.

Even if KN95 masks may not fulfill NIOSH filtration efficacy criteria, they are likely to be more beneficial than simple surgical and fabric masks if they have a tight seal with no gaps.

Suggestions for Improving Your Masking

  1. Check to see whether it's comfortable. Make sure that whichever mask you pick is one that you will be able to wear on a daily basis.
  2. Although many fabric masks aren't as effective as medical masks, there's more to upgrading your mask than the material it's made of. You should make sure that the mask fits properly. A surgical mask with holes on the sides that continuously slide down over your nose would certainly outperform a well-fitting cloth mask made from at least three layers of tightly woven cloth.

Final Thoughts

On huge online merchants, fake face masks have become a serious concern. Companies pretend to be offering N95s or KN95s; however, their masks do not meet the same criteria as masks inspected by the US or Chinese governments. Sometimes, merchants may put the name of a legitimate brand on counterfeit items, making it even more difficult to distinguish between the two.

On the other hand, the highly infectious COVID-19 omicron strain has shifted attention to more powerful masks like N95 and KN95. The CDC amended their masking recommendations in January 2022, stating that N95 and KN95 respirators "provide the best level of protection." The CDC further stated that these breathing apparatuses can be used regularly and that disruptions of supply are no longer a concern.

Hence, it is necessary to protect ourselves from the pandemics crisis while following every guideline, whether it's about washing our hands or physical distancing. In order to shield ourselves against viruses such as COVID-19, we need to take the right precautions while using facemasks like N95 and KN95 correctly.

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