KN95 masks are a great alternative to N95 masks, which shouldn’t be worn by the general public. The reason? N95 respirators are essential for frontline medical workers and first responders battling the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important for them to have access to these masks for their work, and if the general public wears them, they could experience limited access.
Users who still want the same 95% filtration coverage provided by an N95 mask can opt for a KN95 mask. These masks are not NIOSH-approved, but rather are FDA-cleared. This means that the FDA has found them to operate in a similar fashion as the N95 masks, and has deemed them safe for use in the U.S.
KN95 masks are never “certified.” Seeing these words on packaging can be misleading, and should be a red flag to someone attempting to buy one. No face mask is certified by the FDA.
Here are some fast facts about mask approval and registration.
- NIOSH, the National Institution for Occupational Safety and Health, is the organization that approves N95 respirators for use. They do not approve or regulate KN95 masks, surgical masks, or disposable non-medical masks.
The FDA is the agency that regulates face masks when they are being marketed and distributed for medical purposes. Face masks, including KN95 face masks, are only ever regulated; they aren’t approved or certified.
Regulation simply means the FDA is ensuring the face masks that are being sold for purposes of personal protection are safe and meet current industry standards.
The FDA regulates face masks and “clears” them for use.
- The CDC is the agency who gives guidelines and information about which masks to use, which masks are considered effective in helping slow the spread of COVID-19, and which masks should be worn by medical professionals only.
Mask information is confusing, and we all want to make sure we’re wearing masks that are effective and safe. Because KN95 masks are an alternative to N95 masks for the general public it shouldn’t be surprising that there are counterfeit masks being marketed and sold to unsuspecting buyers.
Counterfeit masks are one of the many undesirable practices we’ve had to deal with during COVID. In addition to consumer hoarding and price gouging, the selling of counterfeit masks is another way to dupe people for profit.
Thankfully, the team at Hope Health Supply has your back. We carry a large supply of black and white KN95 masks that are FDA-registered. We also carry numerous other styles of masks so no matter what your mask preferences, we can help.
We’ll talk about how you can determine whether or not your KN95 is real or counterfeit and cover the benefits of wearing a KN95 mask.
How To Know If Your Mask is Authentic
When we talk about whether or not a KN95 mask is authentic, what we really mean is whether or not it has been registered and cleared with the FDA. The FDA maintains a list on it’s website of cleared mask manufacturers, and you can easily search the list to see if the mask you own has been registered.
It’s fairly easy to know whether or not your KN95 mask is legitimate. Here are some tell-tale signs it might be fake.
It doesn’t have any markings. No markings on the mask at all, including no embossed KN95 symbol, no numbers, and no product identification marks, can mean your mask is likely a counterfeit.
Most all KN95 masks will have a “KN95” embossed on the side of the mask, and many will have a number printed on their mask as well.
Use of the FDA logo on the packaging. The FDA never allows its logo to be used on any face mask device. If you see the FDA’s logo, you can know for certain your mask is a counterfeit.
It’s also a good indication your mask is fake if the manufacturer attempts to convince you that their KN95 mask is “approved” by the FDA by providing a registration certificate. Remember, the registration certificate (if it is legitimate) only states that the FDA has checked the product and cleared it for use. The FDA does not “approve” face masks.
Incredibly loose ear straps. Most KN95 masks attach to the wearer’s head by means of two ear loops that fit tightly around the wearer’s ears, creating a snug fit on across the face. Some KN95 face masks can also feature a headband that wraps completely around the head.
Counterfeit face masks usually have extremely loose elastic ear loops, making it nearly impossible to get a tight fit on the wearer’s face.
Little to no markings or information on the mask packaging. If you buy a KN95 mask that doesn’t have any writing on the packaging, it can be indicative of a counterfeit mask. Most KN95 masks that are registered with the FDA will have appropriate packaging that shows where the mask was manufactured, give the name and address of the manufacturer, and give some type of product information about the features of the mask.
You don’t know the company. If you’ve never heard of the company that is selling you a KN95 mask, can’t find any information about them online, and can’t verify that the business is actually legitimate, you’re probably going to get a counterfeit mask from them.
It’s best to do business with a company that is transparent and registered with the FDA for providing medical supplies, like Hope Health Supply.
What Are the Benefits of Wearing a KN95 Mask?
If it’s so much trouble to determine whether a KN95 mask is counterfeit, is it even worth wearing one? Short answer, yes, however it is highly subjective and specific to an individual person’s needs.
Here are some of the reasons you might want to wear a KN95 mask:
- Better filtration. KN95 masks filter up to 95% of all non-oily suspended particles of 0.3 micron levels. That’s much higher filtration than a cloth mask or a non-medical disposable mask can offer.
- More comfort. Some people prefer using a KN95 mask to a cloth mask or non-medical disposable mask because they don’t fit as closely on the face as those options. A KN95 mask is designed to seal around the face, however the mask comes to a point in the front allowing for room to talk without the mask rubbing against the wearer’s mouth.
- A closer fit. Non-medical disposable masks may not fit as securely on a wearer’s face as they’d prefer. A KN95 mask is made to seal around a person’s nose and mouth, offering a superior level of fit.
Ultimately, it’s up to the individual person to decide if a KN95 mask is right for them. Many people prefer them and feel they offer a better level of protection than a cloth or non-medical disposable mask.
KN95 masks are great alternatives for people who’d prefer something other than a cloth, neoprene, or non-medical disposable mask. You can get a great KN95 mask and know it isn’t counterfeit by looking for certain markings on the mask, and from purchasing your mask from a reputable company, like Hope Health Supply.