What’s The Difference Between N95 and KN95 Masks?

KN95 Face Mask

The Coronavirus pandemic has made donning facemasks mandatory in most countries. The masks that offer the most dependable protection against the virus are the N95 respirator masks. Governments have also implemented regulations that aim to slow down the spread of the highly contagious virus. Among the regulations that governments implemented to combat the spread included the banning of inter-continental travel and observing social distancing. Although these regulations have been effective at slowing down the spread of Covid-19, they have also interrupted supply chains in most industries. This interruption has made the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) to people who need them difficult. Moreover, the high demand for N95 face masks has brought about market deficits for the facemasks. Consequently, medical professionals have resorted to using the alternative masks that offer almost similar protection to face masks N95 respirator. The most recommended mask to replace the N95 masks is the K95 face mask.

What does N95 Mean?

The number that is used to identify N95 respirator masks stands for the filtering capability of the mask. The number “95” indicates that during testing, the mask filters out at least 95% of micro particles that are greater than 0.3 microns in size. The ‘N’ means that N95 mask can filter out non-oil particles. The N95 face masks standard dictates that the mask has to fit tightly on the face and fit perfectly to offer protection. The body that passes the N95 masks in the United States is the Center for Disease Control and prevention (CDC). The CDC has certified the N95 masks for use by medical professionals and healthcare workers when performing procedures that expose them to pathogenic microorganisms, body fluids, and particulate matter.

What Does KN95 Mean?

KN95 is the regulatory standard that guides production and use of facemasks in china. China standards require that a facemask should sit on the face and form a tight seal. The masks should have filtering capability of between 94% and 95%. The mask should also filter most non-oily particles. The standards for KN95, therefore, have a slight difference to those set for the N95 mask by the CDC.

Due to the closeness in the filtration ability of the N95 and the KN95 facemasks, they can be used interchangeably. This is to say that you can use a KN95 mask in place of an N95 mask. Similarly, an N95 face mask can replace a KN95 mask.

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How KN95 Mask differ from N95 masks

Difference in Certification standards

Primarily, the difference between the KN95 and the N95 face masks is in the certification standards that each mask follows. KN95 face masks are made in China and follow China’s certification standards. The N95 face masks follow United States’ standards as set by CDC. This difference in the certifying bodies has made the N95 mask more popular in United States as compared to the KN95. The KN95 filter, on the other hand, is more popular in China and the countries that boarder China.

Difference in inhalation resistance

According to tests done on the N95 facemask and the KN95 face masks by Hensonmed institute, a slight difference in the inhalation resistance between the two masks exists. The KN95 face mask has an inhalation resistance of less than or equal to 350Pa. The inhalation resistance on the N95 face mask, however, is less than or equal to 343Pa. This difference in the inhalation resistance is attributable to the different materials that make up the mask. Although the difference in inhalation resistance is small, it might mean that users of the face masks N95 respirator use less effort when breathing in as compared to those using the KN95 mask. Subsequently, users of the KN95 use a little more effort to breathe in when using the KN95 mask on their faces. Due to this difference, people can wear the N95 respirator for longer hours as compared to the KN95 filter without feeling too much discomfort in breathing.

Difference in Exhalation resistance

Exhalation resistance test on the N95 mask and the KN95 face mask also revealed a difference in the two masks. The KN95 filter has an exhalation resistance of less than or equal to 250Pa. The N95 mask has an exhalation resistance of less than or equal to 245Pa. The difference in the exhalation resistance means that users of the face masks n95 respirator have an easier time breathing out as compared to the users of the KN95 face mask.

Difference in CO2 Clearance requirements

The requirements for CO2 clearance only apply in China, which means it only affects the KN95. The CDC does not have CO2 clearance as a requirement for face masks, which means that the requirement does not affect the N95. The KN95 has CO2 clearance of less than or equal to 1%.

Other differences

Another important difference between the KN95 face masks and the face masks N95 respirator is the procedure that a user follows when wearing each.

KN95 masks come with two straps attached on both ends of the face mask. To don the KN95, the two straps, which are mostly elastic, go over your ears. The KN95 mask then sits on your face.

Wearing the N95 respirator utilizes the head wrap method. Like the KN95, the N95 mask has two straps. To wear the N95 mask, the user puts one strap over the head and under the ears while the other strap goes over the head and sits on the crown of his or her head.

This difference in donning the face masks has made some people prefer using the KN95 face mask over the N95 face mask while others prefer the N95 mask over the KN95 face mask.

To some people, wearing the N95 mask feels more comfortable since its use does not cause any stress to the ears. However, in cases where a person wants to remove and re-wear a mask often, he or she is likely to find the N95 mask too tasking. This is because it takes significant effort to wear and remove an N95 mask. Every time you want to remove the N95 mask, you have to reach over your head to remove the straps that hold it in place.

In contrast, the KN95 mask feels uncomfortable to wear over long hours because the elastic straps will strain the ears. However, in situations where the users intend to wear and remove the KN95 mask often, the simple donning method comes in handy. To wear the KN95, all you have to do is place the mask over your face and pull both loops over your ears. Removing the KN95 mask is also as easy as pulling both loops from the ears.

Using KN95 and N95 masks during the Coronavirus pandemic

A shortage in supply of face masks N95 respirator has seen authorities resort to adopting measures that will help mitigate the limited supply. The KN95 filter has become the alternative in most cases due to their efficient filtering ability. KN95 filters are more readily available in China, which is the manufacturing hub for both N95 and KN95 filters.

The problem that many countries face today emanates from the shipping of the N95 and KN95 filters from manufacturing countries to where they are needed. As a result, most governments have eased travel bans and allowed ships and planes that carry cargo into their countries. This has made the KN95 filter available to countries that have been worst hit by the coronavirus.

Besides wearing a KN95 mask while in public places, managing the spread of the highly contagious corona virus might also involve other methods. For instance, people who are not at high risk of exposure to the virus could rely on social distancing and wearing surgical masks and cloth masks.

People should also observe high hygiene standards in all areas of their lives to curb the spread of the virus. Regular hand washing with soap is advisable. People should also minimize unnecessary body contact.

A more effective way of reducing the virus is sanitizing the hands and surfaces that people touch frequently with alcohol-based sanitizers. Moreover, stores should always ensure they have enough hand sanitizer in stock.

Companies should also embrace social distancing and empower their employees to work from home in order to help reduce the spread of the virus.

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