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With a global pandemic going on, many regular people are now finding themselves in need of masks, without the ability to actually find them. Disposable paper masks are able to be found, but N95 masks are pretty scarce. People are starting to look into other options, finding KN95 masks, and wondering what the difference is. The names sound very similar, but are they? The answer is yes, there are very few differences between the two.

What are N95 and KN95 masks?

N95 and KN95 masks are both respirator masks. N95 being the US regulated mask and KN95s are regulated in China. Both masks have a filtration rate that is greater than or equal 95%. Generally speaking N95 masks are regulated by the CDC and NIOSH. In order for them to be marketed as a medical mask they normally need FDA clearance. However due to the short supply of respirators for COVID-19 the FDA released a statement that NIOSH approved masks may be used in medical settings.

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What are the differences?

N95 and KN95 respirator masks are very similar as they have similar requirements. Both have a filtration rate of greater than or equal to 95%. But there are slight differences. For example the Chinese government requires fit tests on real humans, the masks need to have less than 8 percent leakage in order to be certified. N95 masks do not have a fit test requirement. On the flip side N95 masks have stricter requirements on pressure drops during inhaling and exhaling, so they are required to be more breathable.

How to disinfect your mask!

N95 and KN95 masks can be reused, but you need to disinfect them before you do. This can be a bit tricky. Washing the masks or dipping them in alcohol can degrade the material, which reduces the effectiveness. The most effective way to disinfect masks is to leave it out to dry. Current studies have shown that COVID-19 can remain viable on surfaces for up to 3 days. There are other things that factor into this such as temperature. The virus can survive longer in colder temperatures. So leaving your mask out to dry in the sun, for 72 hours should do the trick.

Final Thoughts!

While there are very slight differences in N95 and KN95 masks. For the most part they are extremely similar and protect you in much the same way. The FDA has an updated list of KN95 masks that are certified to be used in a medical setting while COVID-19 is going on, to combat the lack of availability of N95 masks. You may however find that you don’t really need other one of these masks, as some people have said they trouble breathing in them. If that’s the case a regular disposable face mask will protect you as well.