KN95 vs. N95 in Healthcare Settings – Which One Is the Gold Standard?

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protective suit, face mask, face shield @ Pixabay

If there’s one thing that COVID-19 has taught us since it first came to light in December 2019 is that it’s here to stay. 

Even with vaccination in full force in many parts of the world, the relevant health authorities still advise that we stay vigilant and stick to all the guidelines we’ve been following to avoid infection. 

This is especially important with the new, more contagious Delta variant, spreading across the U.S. and other parts of the world. 

Among the key safety measures people have been urged to practice, is wearing a face mask at all times when at work or in public. For healthcare workers especially those who take care of Covid-19 patients, face masks have never been more important.

This raises the question, ‘which face mask ensures maximum protection against COVID-19?’ 

At this point, even as you look for masks for your own use, you may have come across two notable names – KN95 and N95. The two types of masks, which are superior to surgical and cloth masks, can be confusing. See more on where to purchase these types of masks.

Which one is more effective in protecting healthcare workers against coronavirus? What are their similarities and differences? Let’s compare these two types of masks in-depth. 

What Are Their Similarities

At first glance, there’s really no difference between a KN95 and an N95 mask. The two masks are created from several layers of synthetic material and are usually designed to fit snugly around a person’s nose and mouth area. They also come with straps to hold the mask tightly in place.   

As for effectiveness, both the KN95 and N95 respirators filter 95% of airborne 0.3-micron particles, which is why they have ‘95’ in their names. This percentage is one of the highest of any mask, which means both respirators can effectively prevent COVID-19 infection. But as you may expect, they are also more expensive than other masks. 

The Differences

KN95s and N95s are similar in almost every way. But if you look closely at their design, you’ll notice that most N95s are usually round with a nose protrusion at the top and an elastic band that goes around your head. 

On the other hand, KN95s look a lot like N95s, except that they have a seam that cuts right down the middle- for easy folding- and separate loops for each ear. 

However, the main difference comes down to certification. N95 masks are the US standard, while KN95s are the Chinese standard. That means the approval measures are slightly different. 

For example, KN95s must pass a special fit test and have an equal of less than 8% leakage rate. N95s don’t need this test since they are already approved for healthcare use in the US.  

Verdict: Which One Holds the Gold Standard Between KN95 and N95? 

As you can see, N95s and KN95s are similar in terms of protection. However, N95s are considered the gold standard mostly because they are approved by the CDC and NIOSH and are more advanced in terms of breathability for users. 

Still, even without the certification, KN95s provide better protection than cloth and surgical masks. That said, keep safe by always wearing your mask properly and observing other safety guidelines. 

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