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The Differences between KN95 and N95 Masks

Face masks were once the preserve of medical workers. Today, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, they are a necessity for all. The virus has spread to more than 200 countries across the world. So far, there are more than 5.75 million reported infection cases and over 300000 deaths. It’s enough information to emphasize the importance of wearing a proper mask.

The FDA has some masks that it recommends for better protection. These are the KN95 and N95 masks. They share similarities but also have differences which are crucial to note.

What are Face Masks?

A face mask can be anything from a simple scarf tied over the nose and mouth to an elaborate N95 mask. As per the CDC recommendation, everyone is advised to cover their face while out in public. It’s not mandatory in the US but in some countries, venturing out without a mask is illegal.

Masks are proving effective in curbing the spread of COVID 19. In case someone with the virus sneezes or coughs, a quality mask like the N95 and KN95 prevent you from inhaling the sputum they unleash. COVID 19 is mainly spread this way, and covering your face keeps you safe.

Not all types of masks offer you protection from the coronavirus. For example, covering your face with a piece of cloth is not a valid measure. It’s best to use recommended masks like the N95 for proper shielding.

For one, the masks have a better fit and don’t permit any particles to enter through the sides. Also, you can breathe better and don’t require removing to catch your breath. This way, you don’t run the risk of touching your face now and then.

Similarities between KN95 and N95 Masks

The two masks might be from different countries, but they are an equivalent of each other. They share similarities that are not easy to ignore.

  1. Filtration Percentage

Even though many people view the two masks as different, they are similar in many ways. One of the most crucial characteristics is its filtration percentage. The best masks must keep out a large portion of harmful substances, including the coronavirus. The KN95 and N95 have a 95% filtration percentage.

  1. NaCl Testing

The recommended testing agent for both masks is NaCl (Sodium Chloride). The masks are placed on a texting fixture first then sealed in a cylindrical object. The holder is sealed to ensure the mask remains in place at all times. After that, the mask is exposed to air particles of Sodium Chloride in varying concentrations.

  1. Flow Rate

Both the KN95 and N95 masks maintain a constant flow rate of 85l/min. This is according to set standards in both China and the US. Both have penetration levels that are properly aligned through the filter media they use. The particles this is meant to have a mass median of 0.3 microns.

  1. Quality of Materials

The two masks might be from opposite sides of the world, but they share quality in materials. The best masks of their kind are made using polymer fibers that are non- woven and synthetic. The non-woven fabric mainly used is polypropylene using a method known as melt blowing. It’s what makes up the inner layer that keeps all harmful airborne particles out.

  1. Industry Usage

The KN95 and N95 masks are used widely today by the majority of the public due to the Coronavirus. Initially, many were made for industry workers. Most people working in mining, construction, and factories are exposed to harmful particles all day. These masks are capable of filtering out 95% of these particles and protecting those wearing them.

What are the Differences between KN95 and N95 Masks?

  1. Country of Origin

Though the names sound the same, the two masks are different. For starters, the two masks meet various standards. The N95 masks are meet the US standards for safety masks. The FDA has a set of rules that these masks must meet fully. Failure to do so means they are not recommended for use in hospitals and now by most of the public.

On the other hand, K95 masks meet the set standards of the Chinese. They are mainly made in China and adhere to the production regulations in the country. All masks produced need to meet the Chinese regulations on safe masks to use out in public and in health organizations.

  1. Fit Tests

To check how effective masks are, it’s necessary to perform tests on them. For KN95 masks, the Chinese government has made it mandatory to test the masks to check their leakage rate. The tests are performed on live human beings and the best masks must have a leakage of less than 8%.

In the US where N95 masks are recommended, there is no recommendation from the FDA on live testing of masks. Even though this is the case, it’s not to mean fit tests are wrong. For example, some companies in the US require fit tests for their workers.

  1. Breathability

KN95 masks have slightly less strict rules on breathability than N95 masks. This is not to mean that KN95 masks are not breathable. They are and undergo fit tests to check this. The only difference is for N95 masks, the manufacturing standards are stricter requiring the masks to be as breathable as possible.

  1. Inhalation Resistance

With every exhalation, CO2 tends to accumulate at the mask. The best masks make it possible to resist inhaling CO2 while still inhaling O2. The pressure tends to drop at a rate of not less than 343 Pa for N95 masks. On the other hand, KN95 masks experience not less than 350 Pa.

  1. Requirement for CO2 Clearance

For KN95 masks, CO2 clearance is required to a rate of not less than 1%. This assures those who use the masks, they have a better chance of breathing in oxygen than CO2. This is per the Chinese government set standards.


The N95 and KN95 are an equal of each other. Even with similarities, they still share some differences. For one, the N95 must meet US safety measures while the KN95 follows Chinese government rules. All in all, both are efficient masks to wear when seeking protection from COVID 19.