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Kn95 Masks : 10 Things To Check Before Buying
KN95 Masks: A Quick Summary
KN95 masks provide 95% protection against all particles that are greater than 0.3 m in diameter. This is an effective barrier against bacteria, viruses, pollution particles, fine particles, dust, smog, pollen, etc.
The term KN95 stands for the regulatory standard for filtering facepiece respirators that are certified in China.
Typically KN95 masks have a 3D foldable design, earloops, nose bridge/nosepiece, and provide excellent fitting and sealing.
The masks feature 5-layer protection and are skin-friendly (don’t cause rash and skin irritation).
Currently approved by the WHO as a safety measure from COVID-19; used by health care providers, patients, and citizens.
Currently advised by the WHO for extended use and reuse.
1. What Does KN95 Mean?
KN95 stands for the regulatory standard for filtering facepiece respirators that are certified in China. The regulatory standard ensures filtration efficiency, a tight seal with the face as well as minimum leakage.
These requirements for a KN95 certification are almost the same as the requirements for the US N95 filtering facepiece respirators.
That is why both KN95 and N95 provide the same levels of protection, according to international standards and certifications.
2. What Is A KN95 Mask?
KN95 respiratory masks are masks that are regulated by the Chinese government under regulations GB2626-2006, GB262-2019, and GB19083-2010. These masks have become available worldwide since April 2020 to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Healthcare professionals extensively use the KN95 filtering facepiece respirators since they meet the FDA guidelines and international standards.
The KN95 mask fits tightly around the face and thus create an airtight seal. This mask features an earloop fastener, whereas other types of masks that use head strap attachments.
Many favor the KN95 mask design due to how easy it is to put on. It also fits very well from the nose to the chin area preventing particles from bypassing the mask filter.
3. What Does A KN95 Mask Protect You From?
The KN95 mask design provides effective respiratory protection against all sorts of particles, including bacteria and viruses.
The KN95 masks provide 95% protection against all particles that are greater than 0.3 m in diameter.
This means it is an effective barrier against bacteria, viruses, pollution particles, fine particles, dust, smog, pollen, and reduce the risk of bacteria and viral infections
4. What Are KN95 Masks Made From?
The KN95 masks are multi-layer masks, that usually feature 5-layer protection. The layers are made from high-quality, nonwoven fabric, hot air cotton, and melt-blown fabric.
The nonwoven fabric is hydrophobic, and is water- and droplet-proof. Moreover, the hot air cotton is soft and ensures lower air velocity. Further layers ensure particle filtration and hypoallergenic materials, that are skin-friendly.
Such a layered fabric construction contributes to the mask’s particle filtering efficiency and a generally better design. Speaking of design, the KN95 mask has a 3D foldable design, as well as an adjustable nose bridge clip to fit the face better and firmer.
Unlike other masks, the KN95 mask features an elastic earloop. This further ensures a tight and firm fitting to the face, from nose to chin area.
Note: Some KN95 masks have 4 instead of 5 layers. However, these 4-layered masks are generally cheaper, and not recommended for use against COVID-19. The WHO and CDC recommend respiratory masks with 5 layers only.
5. How Long Can You Use A KN95 Mask?
Both the US N95 and Chinese KN95 masks are manufactured and designed for one-time use (disposable design).
This means that each new use would normally require a new mask. However, because of the shortage of the N95 and KN95 masks, the CDC has recommended reusing disposable masks as a crisis capacity strategy.
Strategies for the extended use of masks like N95 or KN95 are available at
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) According to NIOSH, the N95 and KN95 can be reused (only if properly stored between uses and only if used by one and same individual), and used for an extended period of time. Thus an individual may wear the same mask for a continuous period of time in one day, after which the mask should be disposed of due to repeated exposure and close contact.
6. Is KN95 Mask Efficient?
KN95 mask design have at least 95% filtration efficiency. This makes them just as good as the N95 masks (97% filtration efficiency) and better than surgical masks (95% filtration efficiency) and PM 2.5 filter masks (approximately 60% filtration efficiency).
Generally, these masks are very effective against airborne particles, viruses, and bacteria. Their efficiency was tested and proven through international regulations and regulatory standards of FDA, CDC, etc.
However, studies have shown that the filtration efficiency of KN95 masks drops after sterilization or extended use. The filtration efficiency can drop even 50% post-sterilization.
The simple reason, filtering facepiece respirators are designed for one-time use and should then be disposed of.
That is why caution should be exercised when reusing or sterilizing respiratory masks.
That is why the CDC recommends extended use only if the mask maintains its fit and function and is properly stored between use (if it’s being reused).
7. Does WHO Recommend KN95 Masks Against COVID-19?
The WHO has provided guidance and available evidence when it comes to the use of respiratory masks like KN95 as a protective measure against COVID-19.
So far, what they know is that these masks should be effective against virus transmission and for protection against infection.
These masks are being used by health care providers. And since it is believed that they protect from at least 95% of all particles, bacteria, and viruses, their use will be continued.
However, the WHO states and emphasizes that there are currently NOT ENOUGH studies to evaluate the effectiveness of respiratory masks like the N95 or KN95 against Coronavirus in particular. However, they still advise that these masks should be worn as a part of the protective measure strategy in regards to infection transmission and the prevention of virus transmission among health care providers, patients, and citizens.
8. How To Handle KN95 Masks?
According to the Crisis Standards of Care by CDC, decontamination recommendations in regards to handling a decontaminated mask are as follows;
Before and after touching or adjusting the respiratory mask, you should clean your hands with soap and water, or an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Avoid touching the inside of the mask.
When touching and adjusting the mask, make sure to use a pair of clean (non-sterile) gloves.
Visually inspect the respiratory mask to see whether its composition and fitting have been compromised.
Make sure to check whether the mask components like the nose bridge, straps, and nose foam material did not degrade (which can compromise the mask efficiency, quality of the fit, and seal).
Always make sure to discard a used respiratory mask properly and never leave it exposed, where other people can touch it or use it.
9. How To Spot A Counterfeit KN95 Mask?
Not all KN95 masks and brands available on the market are authentic, and due to the shortage of the masks, there are many counterfeit KN95 mask brands. Some of the signs that a respiratory mask is counterfeit are the following;
No markings on the filtering facepiece respirator mask whatsoever,
There is a NIOSH logo or a TC number on a KN95 mask (Only on an American-market N95 mask will you see a NIOSH logo)
There is an FDA logo on the box or packaging of the mask; FDA does NOT approve the use of the administration label on any respirator packaging,
Presence of decorative fabric or other decorative add-ons (e.g. sequins),
Claims that the mask is approved for children (NIOSH does NOT approve any of the respiratory protection for children),
There are straps for ears instead of earloops for KN95 masks
Here are some further tips on how you can test a KN95 mask to see if it’s fake:
Flammability if a mask is KN95 certified when exposed to a flame it should melt but not ignite. Counterfeit KN95 masks are made from cheap materials and will ignite when in contact with a flame.
Permeability if a mask is KN95 certified, it should limit the airflow going in and out of the mask. You can test this by trying to blow out a candle or a flame of a lighter by blowing through the mask. With a KN95 rated mask, you shouldn’t be able to blow out the flame no matter how hard you blow.
Liquid resistance if a mask is KN95 certified, it will have a waterproof layer that will prevent the passage of fluid. You can test this by pouring some water into the mask. A certified KN95 mask will contain all the water with no leakage, while a counterfeit mask will allow the water to flow through the mask.
10. How Do I Get A Proper Fit With A KN95 Mask?
To put the KN95 mask properly, make sure to do as follows:
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizer before putting the mask.
Hold the earloop mask and nosepiece facing up and place the mask under your chin.
Stretch the earloops over each ear.
Position and adjust the mask on your nose by using both of your hands. You should mold the nosepiece to the shape of your nose and push downwards on both sides of the nosepiece.
Always perform a fit and seal check by placing both hands over the face mask. Make sure not to move or disturb the position of the mask. You can test whether the mask fits properly by exhaling; if there is air leakage, then make sure to adjust the mask again, especially the nosepiece.
How Does a KN95 Compare to an N95 Mask?
“The KN95 is practically equivalent to N95 in every aspect,” says Amin. “Customers seem to believe that the N95 is superior at blocking airborne particles, but the KN95 is just as good, if not better,” he insists. “Many N95 [masks] are also made in parts of China and Asia so the notion that all N95 are U.S.-created is inaccurate as well.”The FDA has released a list of approved N95 masks here