Is the KN95 Mask as Effective as the N95 Mask?
| Rick Magennis
In the current pandemic, many people are considering masks to ensure that they are protected when they leave home. Unfortunately, it is quite common to become a little confused about which mask will be effective. Experts agree that the N95 mask is the most effective, but does the KN95 mask compare favorably? Since these masks have such similar names, we’ll explore the differences and similar characteristics to help you make an informed decision.
In simple terms, the N95 is the US standard of a respiratory mask, while the KN95 is the Chinese standard. There are requirements for manufacturers to meet the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and health standards. Although there are some key differences, the two types of masks are almost equivalent, particularly when looking at the features essential for COVID-19 protection.
According to 3M, the leading mask manufacturer, is it “reasonable to consider” the KN95 as “equivalent” to the N95. The FFP2 from Europe, P2 from Australia, and Japanese DS are also highly similar.
What most users will care about is the percentage of particles a mask can capture. In this particular metric, the N95 and the KN95 are the same. Both of these masks have been rated to capture 95 percent of particles 0.3 microns and larger. However, empirical data has shown that these types of masks can also be highly effective in capturing smaller particles.
This means that if you have been recommended an N95 mask, a KN95 mask will provide a similar level of filtration.
Of course, the products are different. Both ratings require the mask to a filtration efficiency test. This process involves capturing salt particles, and both masks are tested with an 85 L/minute flow rate. However, there are some differences; many of these are small and uninteresting to the average user, but there are some key differences.
One of the most obvious is that KN95 certification requires mask fit tests on humans, and to qualify, there should be less than an 8 percent leakage rate. N95 certification does not require this type of testing, so manufacturers are not mandated to run mask fit tests.
This does not mean that fit tests are invalid. In fact, many companies and hospitals require fit testing of workers. However, these are company requirements rather than US NIOSH mask certification.
N95 certification also has slightly stricter pressure drop requirements for inhalation. This means that an N95 mask is required to be a little more breathable compared to a KN95 mask. There are also slightly stricture pressure drop exhalation requirements for the N95, which also improves breathability a little.
In conclusion, the N95 and KN95 both have a rating for 95% particle capture. Although the KN95 mask is required to pass a fit test, the N95 has slightly stronger breathability requirements.
If you would like to find out more about filtration masks and the effectiveness offered, be sure to contact us.