Which mask is better for me -- N95 or KN95? That’s what you probably want to know right? Good, because understanding what type of mask you should wear is imperative during the COVID-19 pandemic. The answer may even save your life.
However, the real question should be: which mask is better for everyone? The pandemic affects us all, and we’re all in this together. The answer to both questions depends on a few factors. Curious? Read on.
What is an N95 Mask?
A N95 mask, also known as a N95 respirator, is a device that closely molds to your face and filters microbes in the air. The edges fit tightly across the face and conceal your mouth and nose.
There are different kinds of N95 masks. For instance, surgeons use surgical N95 respirator masks. In terms of which mask healthcare workers should use -- surgical N95 masks or regular surgical masks -- that will depend on your healthcare facility.
However, both types of masks are tested for flammability, fluid resistance, and can help filter unwanted microbes. Additionally, both should not be shared or used more than once.
N95 Mask Pros
Fitted N95 masks without exaltation valves are known as some of the best masks on the market. They filter about 95% of aerosol particles and are made of multiple layers of synthetic materials.
So long as they are purchased from an approved maker and fit correctly, N95 masks have been approved by NIOSH and the CDC to be used in the fight against the COVID-19. The masks are so valuable in fact, that the CDC doesn’t recommend use of N95 for the general public, only for healthcare workers and first responders who are in more constant contact with COVID-19.
N95 Mask Cons
People with medical conditions that cause strained breathing should check with a doctor before using a N95, as the mask may make your breathing worse. Additionally, children and people with facial hair that meet the edges of the mask shouldn’t use a N95, as the fit won’t be correct and the full range of benefits won’t be given.
N95 masks are for single use only, and should never be reused or shared with other people.
What is a KN95 Mask?
KN95 masks, also known as KN95 respirators, are masks that closely mold to your face and have recently been approved by the CDC for non-medical use against the spread of COVID-19. First originating in China, these masks have been gaining popularity for their close similarity to the USA-produced N95 masks.
Filtering out up to 95% of particles, KN95 masks can keep out harmful pathogens, as well as dust and pollen.
These masks are especially helpful in situations where you find yourself in close contact with strangers for extended periods of time.
As KN95 masks are the ones approved for public use, there are many counterfeit options for sale. This results in people using masks that are unsuited for their original purpose, possibly leading to harmful situations in the future due to perceived protection. Be wary of such masks and be sure that your purchase is FDA-registered.
Those with medical conditions that cause labored breathing or other issues should use these masks with caution, as they can exacerbate difficulties breathing.
How Do The N95 and KN95 Compare?
At times, these masks can seem so similar it’s hard to tell them apart. However, they are very different in the use they can give to people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both the KN95 mask and the N95 mask are made of many layers of synthetic material and are held in place by straps behind the ear and are meant to fit your face snugly. Additionally, they both filter up to 95% of microbes in the air, even up to the tiny .3 micron particles (that’s where the 95 in KN95 and N95 comes from).
In response to COVID-19, the CDC has authorized the use of KN95 masks as an alternative to N95, signaling that both are viable choices to use against the virus.
The N95 mask and the KN95 mask both face the problem that children and people with facial hair cannot use the masks to their full potentials, stemming from a problem with how the mask fits.
Both masks should only be used for single use, and should never be shared between two or more people. Also, those with breathing issues must exercise caution when using both masks, as they can both make breathing more difficult in general. If this could apply to you, watch out for dizziness and headaches as a first sign.
The main difference between the two masks is that N95 masks originated in the United States and KN95 masks originated in China. As such, only the N95 masks are approved for medical use in the United States, even though KN95 masks are inherently similar.
Not only are the N95 masks approved for healthcare in the United States, they’re specifically reserved for healthcare and emergency services workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. People who fall outside of those categories have been advised not to use them, due to high demand.
N95 masks must get approval from NIOSH (part of the CDC), but KN95 masks only need approval from the FDA. Although the FDA does require extensive documentation and proof of the KN95 mask’s worth, they have slightly less of an approval process than the N95 masks.
One of the tests that KN95 masks have performed on them is a fit testing where they test the air on the outside and inside of the mask. N95 masks don’t have that test, but instead focus on the drop in pressure that happens inside of the mask during an intake of breath. As a result, it’s a bit easier to breathe in N95 masks and the masks.
Additionally, N95 masks tend to fit better around the face and neck, ensuring virtually no entry for pathogens.
Why Is It Important To Wear a Mask?
Although masks can help filter particles and provide some protection from harmful germs up to 0.3 microns in size, COVID-19 particles can be even smaller, around 0.1 microns. Luckily, most of the time, COVID particles tend to be attached to larger particles within moisture, but still the threat is there.
Unfortunately, masks aren’t a perfect solution to a terrible problem, but they still give hope and can provide a measure of significant help.
Wearing a mask can lower not only your possibility of catching COVID-19, it can help avert others from catching it if you are positive.
Even small attempts at living more safely can make a big impact. Wear a mask, but also social distance and avoid large crowds. Be careful above all else.
Looking for your next mask? Or maybe other helpful tools to use during the pandemic? Check out our products at Hope Health Supply, with guaranteed fast shipping and low prices, all from a small, family-owned company who just wants you to stay as safe as possible and slow the spread.
Wearing a mask during this pandemic is extremely important. However, only healthcare workers and other pre-approved groups can wear N95 masks currently. Even so, the difference between KN95 and N95 masks is so small, it’s barely noticeable.
Luckily, our KN95 masks are available! With our comfortable fabric and fast shipping, you’ll soon be basking in comfort and security.