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N95 vs KN95 masks for COVID-19 and the difference between them



The coronavirus pandemic heralded quite a few cultural disruptions, but perhaps none is as important – or as telling – as what we are wearing now: masks.

Face covering has become a staple just as important as underwear (although there will always be naysayers – about face covering and Underwear), with the CDC recommending the wearing of masks in public facilities as well as in private rooms shared with outsiders.

Experts say there is evidence that despite an Ipsos poll showing that 77 percent of Americans wear a mask sometimes or always when they leave the house, many fail to understand how effective it is to have one face covering another , and why some pack the shelves While others sell out so quickly, they cannot be found anywhere.

One example is the puzzle between N95 and KN95.

Both are covers that are reminiscent of a duck̵

7;s bill and press firmly against the face, in contrast to the relatively loose fit of a cloth mask or a headscarf. However, there are subtle differences between these two toppings that you should understand.

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What is the difference between N95 and KN95 masks?

“I think people are really confused about what a respirator and what a mask is,” says Dr. Nikki McCullough, technical and regulatory director at 3M, the largest manufacturer of N95 respirators in the United States.

different types of face masks against a blue background

Kilito Chan

She explains that your average face mask won’t filter small particles when you breathe and instead acts as a “barrier” to catch large particles and droplets.

KN95 and N95, on the other hand, are respiratory masks. While a cloth mask will allow some gaps – for example, on the bridge of your nose or near your cheeks – respirators should seal completely on the skin, according to McCullough.

These respirators filter out 95 percent of particles 0.3 micrometers or more in diameter, explains Dr. Michael Schivo, pulmonologist and associate professor of internal medicine at UC Davis Health.

“This is important because most bacteria are larger than 0.3 microns,” he says. “Many virus particles are small and some are smaller than 0.3 microns, but they are suspended in water droplets that effectively make them larger. So these masks filter out 95 percent of these small particles. “

What is the difference Between N95 and KN95 masks?

The biggest difference between the two is regulation.

Close up of n95 protective mask on blue scrubs with stethoscope

Joe CICAK

KN95 are typically regulated by the Chinese government, while N95 are regulated by the US National Institute for Safety and Health at Work

Approved KN95 work almost identically to N95 – they have practically the same filtration rate and are therefore equally safe when properly certified. KN95s may have ear loops. Most N95s are only attached using headbands. And KN95s could be more readily available for purchase as the demand for N95s continues to grow.

“We started in the twenties million a month [N95] Respirators, ”says Jennifer Ehrlich, a 3M representative. “We are now making more than 50 million a month. And we expect to make $ 95 million a month in October. That’s only in the US. ”

Can someone wear an N95 or KN95 mask?

Respirators are currently not recommended for the general public under CDC guidelines.

digitally generated image of mid air face mask pattern n95 on gray background

Andriy Onufriyenko

Instead, N95 and KN95 should be directed to health care workers and other first responders. Why? Because they are essential protective equipment and they can be used as single-use items, they can run out quickly.

Mark Hersam, professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern University, is working to change that. With a grant from the National Science Foundation, he and his team are working on the development of reusable N95 breathing apparatus that can be decontaminated with ultraviolet light.

In particular, he develops elastic bands that do not deteriorate under UV radiation. “The cloth mask definitely prevents a lot of vapor that you exhale from spreading in a room. That’s good, and that’s why it’s recommended that everyone wear one, ”he says. “But if you really want to capture a significant proportion of the virus particles that get into or out of the mask, then [N95s and KN95s] are much more effective. “

How do you wear an N95 or KN95 mask?

Experts emphasize that unlike cloth masks, both N95 and KN95 require a fit test. “Somebody has to make sure that you put it on correctly, that it is properly sealed and that it does what it is supposed to do,” says Dr. Timothy Brewer, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at UCLA.

As long as the respirator is properly attached, there is little to worry about choosing an N95 over a KN95.

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