What’s the difference between an N95 and a KN95?

  • 2022-01-20
  • 1811

The biggest difference between N95 and KN95 masks, which both filter out at least 95% of particles in the air, is where they are certified.

1. What’s the difference between an N95 and a KN95?

KN95masks are manufactured in China and thus are subject to different certification requirements than U.S.-made N95s. In China, KN95 manufacturers must run a “fit test” on real humans to ensure the masks allow little to no leakage. Makers of N95s aren’t required to run that test but must still meet standards set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The CDC estimates that about 60% of KN95s in the U.S. are fakes, that is, counterfeits made to look as if they came from legitimate manufacturers in China, and don’t meet NIOSH requirements. 

2. What are N95 masks?

In the U.S., the most commonly available versions are called N95s and KN95s; in Europe, these are called FFP2s. Respirators are meant to form a tight seal against the face. That forces the user to pull air through the device’s filter rather than through gaps on the sides. They are designed to keep out not only respiratory droplets, but also smaller aerosol particles that can carry infectious agents and float for a time through the air. Apart from medical professionals, respirators are also often worn by tradespeople such as painters to protect them from airborne toxins.

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