By Laura Harman
The rising cases of COVID-19 and the new variants of the virus have led to more and more people investing in masks. But what is the difference between the KN95 mask and the N95 mask? And is one better than the other?
As the pandemic continues, many people are continuing to invest in face masks to protect themselves and their families. But how you know how to protect yourself with the best possible product? Should we still be making our own masks and investing in masks from small businesses? Should we even be double masking?
KN95 and N95 masks have different standards, but which one should you be investing in, and is one better than the other?
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What are the standards?
One key difference is that the two masks are based on different countries’ certifications. Simply put, the N95 mask is made to the U.S. standard, and the KN95 is made to the China standard.
This means that the N95 must pass a certification test from the CDC. More specifically, from the NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) within the CDC. So how does this impact the masks?
What do N95 and KN95 masks have in common?
Both masks have the number 95 in their name because they both must filter at least 95% of all particles in the air. More specifically, they are both able to filter tiny particles measured at 0.3 microns.
Also, both the KN95 and the N95 masks are not reusable. Both masks have been created with the intention of being disposable.
This means that the masks are virtually interchangeable for two significant factors, such as filtration and usability.
What are the differences between N95 and KN95 masks?
The masks have different certifications when it comes to a “fit test.” This test looks at the wearability of the product as opposed to its technical efficiency. A study cited by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that “N95 fit offers advantages over a loose-fitting surgical mask by eliminating leakage around the mask.” This is because the Chinese government requires less than 8% leakage in their KN95 mask quality. In comparison, the US standard does not run a fit test and therefore does not quality check their N95 masks based on leakage.
Another key difference is that the N95 might be a little bit more breathable. Smart Air states, “N95 masks have slightly stricter requirements for pressure drop while inhaling.”
This means that of the two masks, the N95 masks may be slightly more breathable than the K95 mask. Although, it should be noted that this difference is not particularly significant and death from oxygen starvation is extremely unlikely in either mask.
Overall, it seems that although the masks have minor differences, they are both extremely efficient at protecting wearers from COVID-19.
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