What’s the Difference Between KN95 and N95 Masks?

Unless your profession required you to wear one, or you were involved in some kind of painting and/or sanding project, you probably weren’t very familiar with N95 masks prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that we’re almost a year deep into the battle against COVID, most of us are pretty well acquainted with masks, hand sanitizer, and personal protective equipment-maybe more so than we would like to be. 

However, even if you generally understand what an N95 mask is and how it helps keep you protected, you may not know how an N95 mask differs from a KN95 mask. A KN95 works very similarly to an N95 mask, but they are not the same. In fact, they foundationally differ in their country of origin. N95 masks are the United States standard for airborne particle filtration PPE, and the KN95 is the Chinese standard. 

Understanding the differences between these two masks can help you understand why the N95 masks should be reserved for medical personnel, and why the KN95 mask you choose should only be purchased from a reputable retailer. 

Your team at Hope Health Supply offers the very best in personal protective equipment, including KN95 masks that are Food and Drug Administration (FDA) registered and meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for appropriate mask equipment. We’ll explain what N95 and KN95 masks are, how they work, and how they differ from one another. 

We’ll also explain why it is so important to wear a mask, and how wearing a mask helps protect everyone.  

Why Do We Need to Wear Masks?

Fighting COVID-19 requires us all to take an active role in slowing the spread. In addition to hand washing and social distancing, the CDC recommends mask wearing as a vital part of keeping safe and protecting one another. 

They recommend you wear a mask:

  • When in public. Whether using public transportation, shopping, or visiting friends, it’s important to wear a mask when you’ll be around others. 

  • When you are around people who do not live in your household. If you’re planning to host visitors at home, or if you’re planning an outing with people who don’t live with you, it’s important to wear a mask to protect everyone. 

  • When you cannot properly social distance. The CDC recommends staying at least six feet apart from people who are not members of your household. Even when you are outdoors, if you cannot maintain proper social distance, you should wear a mask. 

COVID-19 is thought to be transmitted mainly via respiratory particulates. Wearing a face covering, even if just a cloth mask, helps with respiratory protection from expelled droplets when you breathe, speak, sing, cough, and/or sneeze. 

Masks also offer protection to the wearer by filtering out some of the respiratory particles in the air that the wearer might otherwise inhale. 

To wear a mask effectively, the mask should cover your nose and mouth entirely, fit securely on your face with no gaps to avoid leakage, lie flat against your cheeks, and be secure over the bridge of your nose and under your chin. 

The most effective masks are capable of filtering and containing a high level of respiratory particles. The N95 and KN95 masks are highly efficient in terms of filtering capability. 

What Are N95 Masks?

An N95 mask is a respirator styled mask that is made to fit very closely to the wearer’s face and filter out a high amount of microscopic particles as aerosol particules or droplets. They are usually made of polyester material and affix to the wearer’s head by means of an elastic headband. Most people who are required to wear these as a part of their job must be fit-tested to ensure their mask creates a complete seal on their face. 

N95 respirators are capable of filtering out up to 95% of non-oily suspended particles of 0.3 micron levels. This is why they are so vitally important for wearing during projects (like sanding) where small particles could enter your lungs. 

In addition to being worn during sanding and painting to block fumes and particles, they are worn by healthcare workers to protect them against patients who might be carrying infectious diseases, like COVID-19. 

Currently, both the FDA and CDC request that the general public avoid wearing N95 masks so that they are available for medical and frontline workers who need them most. It’s important that we avoid using supplies that our medical workers need most, as they are some of the most vulnerable against COVID-19.    

What is a KN95 Mask?

As previously mentioned, a KN95 mask is the China standard for respirator masks, and the N95 is the U.S. standard. The "KN95 respirator" is crafted similarly to the N95. They are a polyester mask that achieves a close facial fit, however, the wearer of a KN95 in the U.S. does not have to be fitted to wear one. 

The KN95 works similarly to the N95 and is capable of filtering non-oily suspended 0.3 micron level particles at up to 95% just like the N95. 

The KN95 is different from the N95 in how it affixes to the wearer’s head. A KN95 fits using ear loops instead of a headband. The KN95 may differ from an N95 in terms of breathability, but the difference is hardly noticeable. 

The best feature of the KN95 is that it offers the high, 95% filtration level of protection in a mask that is appropriate for use by the general public. But, are KN95 masks safe?

Are KN95 Masks Safe?

There was some discrepancy during 2020 as to whether or not the KN95 masks were safe for use due to some masks being not NIOSH N95 comparable. Thankfully, the FDA maintains a list of manufacturers that provide safe and effective KN95 masks to supply chain retailers to be sold to the general public. 

If you are considering purchasing a KN95 mask, contact your retailer and make certain that their manufacturer has been registered with the FDA. It’s also important to make sure that your retailer is a trusted, reputable business. Hope Health Supply believes in complete transparency, and as such, we provide the link to our mask manufacturer’s FDA registration right on our website. You can also access it here

Where Can I Buy KN95 Masks?

The most important part of buying a KN95 mask will be buying from a reputable retailer. Many new businesses that offer personal protective equipment have started since COVID-19, and many other existing businesses have branched into personal protective equipment as a means of helping get supplies to those who need them most. Find out information about your retailer so that you can buy with confidence. 

We might be a little biased, but we think our KN95 masks are the best. We only buy from a reputable manufacturer who tests their masks to standards similar to those imposed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). We only offer these masks because they are high-quality, effective, and safe. 

Additionally, when you buy KN95 masks from Hope Health Supply, we’ll donate a mask to a hospital in need. It’s a great way to go above and beyond in doing your part. Hope Health Supply offers reliable supplies of KN95 masks and other personal protection items for prices you can afford. You’ll never have to worry about price gouging when you shop with us.