You can buy a variety of masks in the shops these days, so why opt for a KN95 mask? As it turns out, there are many reasons to do so! There’s also been some confusion around KN95 masks, so let’s have a look at frequently asked questions. It’s vital to understand why you should wear a mask and why some masks, like the KN95, are more effective than others.
KN95 Mask: 11 Things You Need to Know Before Buying
- KN95 masks are actually respirators, not masks, and therefore protect both the wearer and those around them
- KN95 masks are made to government standards
- KN95, N95 respirators, and other government-approved respirators are the safest on the market
- there are counterfeit KN95 masks on the market, and you need to beware of how to avoid them
- wearing a mask alone will not protect you from COVID—you also need to sanitize your hands before touching your face
- if you have a beard, the KN95 respirators do not protect you or those around you
1. Why Should I Wear a Mask During COVID?
Wearing a mask can help you protect others from getting the virus, as the COVID virus particles are less likely to fly from your mouth and onto others.
2. What’s the Difference Between a Regular Mask and the KN95?
The KN95 is not a mask, but a respirator. That means that it protects both the wearer and the people around the wearer. A mask, on the other hand, mainly protects the people around the wearer.
A respirator is fitted snuggly on your face to ensure little to no air leakage occurs. In other words, air inhaled and exhaled is filtered through the respirator.
A mask, on the other hand, leaves gaps by the nose and mouth. There’s air leakage. And that’s partly why masks don’t protect the wearer.
There’s a second big difference between a regular mask and a KN95. The KN95 undergoes rigorous testing to ensure it captures 95%+ of particles measuring 0.3 microns diagonally and larger. A mask sold in a shop that has not been tested might leak a lot of air and let big particles across. Meaning it will not protect you as effectively, nor those around you as effectively, as a KN95 mask.
3. How Can the KN95 Masks Be Effective if the COVID Virus Is 0.1 Microns?
COVID-19 virus particles only measure 0.1 microns diagonally, but they are generally attached to droplets and much larger particles. Therefore, KN95 masks are incredibly safe.
4. Why do Healthcare Practitioners use KN95 Masks?
Healthcare practitioners use KN95 masks as recommended by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control).
The ones used by healthcare practitioners have further been approved by the FDA (Federal Drug Administration).
The reason these masks are used is because of their high safety rating and availability. The N95 has as high safety rating, for example, but there is often a shortage.
5. What’s the Difference Between KN95 and N95 Masks?
The KN95 masks are certified by the Chinese government and the N95 masks by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The KN95 respirators used in the U.S. for healthcare workers have also been approved by the FDA (Federal Drug Administration).
Other respirators from different countries are similar but carry different names/numbers given by their authorities.
Both N95 and KN95 masks are certified to protect against 95%+ of particles 0.3 microns or larger. That means they’re equally safe from that standpoint.
The KN95 certification requires fitting on humans to ensure no more than 8% air leakage occurs. The N95s are not tested for this.
The N95s, on the other hand, have stricter regulations for airflow. That means they are somewhat better for breathing easily, though it’s a small difference.
Know More: N95 Vs. Kn95 Mask: Which One Should You Buy?
Note that masks with valves may be somewhat less safe for those around the wearer due to an increased number of particles escaping through the valve.
6. Why Are There So Few KN95 Masks on the Market?
The government in the U.S. set forth that healthcare workers and first responders should be given the N95 and KN95 masks before they were made available to the public. This is because there was a shortage of masks as the COVID pandemic broke loose—no one had prepared for this event.
As masks have become more readily available, it’s become possible to stock some stores with KN95 masks.
7. Does Everyone Need to Wear a KN95 Mask for Protection?
No, but it’s the safest option.
If you’re keeping a distance from others and sanitizing your hands, a regular mask might be sufficient. It will likely stop particles of the virus from flying far enough that they contaminate others. However, if you work in an environment where you get close to others, a KN95 mask is recommended.
Likewise, if you’re high risk, the KN95 masks are a safe option. And if you think you might carry the virus, the best thing is to wear a respirator to stop the spread if you have to see other people.
Note that most regular masks have undergone no testing, so it’s hard to say what their efficiency is like. One study found that when compared to other alternatives, the N95 mask without a valve, which is similar to the KN95 mask, is the absolute best option.
If you’ve exhaled on your hands or clothing and touch anything, it can spread the virus. Meaning if others carrying the virus touch a surface that you then touch, you can contract the virus if you touch your face after touching that surface. Therefore, while wearing a KN95 mask will help protect you, you also have to remember to sanitize your hands before touching your face and wash your clothes when returning from seeing others. Having a shower is also recommended.
8. Are All KN95 Masks the Same?
In theory, yes. They are only certified as KN95 if the authorities have approved them, and to get that approval, they undergo vigorous testing. However, there are counterfeit masks on the market. This is sad, as it puts lives at risk. Studies have shown that most counterfeit masks are not as effective as certified KN95 masks.
9. How Do I Avoid Counterfeit KN95 Masks?
The best way to avoid counterfeit KN95 masks is to check what manufacturers have been approved by the FDA. You can do so here.
Other signs to watch out for is spelling mistakes on stamps that “certify” the masks. And while it’s not foolproof, ask the supplier you’re buying from. Is it a trusted supplier? And are they happy to answer your questions about the manufacturer?
You can also test masks at home using a laser and the camera on your phone, as outlined in this article. That should, however, not be necessary.
10. Should People With a Beard Wear KN95 Respirators?
No. The beard prevents the respirator from being productive. While a little bit of stubble shouldn’t make a difference, a beard will prevent the respirator from fitting snuggly over your mouth and nose. That, in turn, means that there will be air leakage.
If you are at risk of spreading or contracting COVID-19, you should consider shaving. It’s essential to wear the best protection gear to prevent the spread and avoid the virus.
11. Can I Reuse My KN95 Mask?
No, KN95 respirators are not reusable for home wear. Machines are being developed to enable them to be cleaned safely. Some such machines already exist and are in operation in places like hospitals. However, those machines are not available to the public as yet.