Though mask restrictions are lessening across the country (and worldwide), you shouldn't be taking off your masks just yet, especially if you're in crowded places or starting to travel. Even if you have received your vaccine and booster, healthcare advisors continue to promote wearing face masks as an effective way to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and other potentially harmful viruses in the air.
And while airlines and the FAA have relaxed guidelines mandating wearing face masks in-flight, many travellers still keep their masks on when sharing air with hundreds of passengers for hours at a time.
The typical N95 masks also referred to as N95 respirators, these masks are not to be confused with KN95 masks, which have a similar name but are held to entirely different standards. Once reserved for construction, medical or lab jobs, the best N95 masks are now available to the public, with some companies pivoting to manufacturing and selling N95 masks for sale online.
But how does an N95 mask work, and how is it different from a KN95 mask? And is an N95 mask effective against Covid and Omicron? We break down what you need to know, plus review some of the best N95 and KN95 masks we've tested, that you can buy online.
N95 Masks vs KN95 Masks: Similarities and Differences
Both N95 masks and KN95 masks are made from multiple layers of synthetic material (typically a polypropylene plastic polymer) and are designed to be worn over the mouth and nose. When it comes to a KN95 mask, straps behind your ear help to hold the mask in place. An authentic N95 mask typically has two straps — one that wraps around your head and another around the back of your head. Both masks must filter out and capture 95 per cent of tiny 0.3-micron particles in the air (hence the "95" in the names).
N95 masks offer protection against particles as small as 0.3 microns in size. While the coronavirus is around 0.1 microns in size, it's usually attached to something more significant, such as droplets generated by everyday activities like breathing and talking. Due to the multiple layers of non-woven fabric and melt-blown fabric in the N95 masks, the intense material makeup of these masks is excellent at preventing airborne particles from entering your mouth and nose.
But how are N95 masks different from KN95 masks? The main difference lies in how the masks are certified. In general, N95 is the U.S. standard, and the KN95 is the China standard. Because of this, only N95 masks are approved for healthcare use in the United States, even though KN95 masks have many of the same protectives.
Remember that the abovementioned certifications only refer to the country where the standards and regulations were created, not where the masks are made. Most N95 masks are still made in China. Similarly, the CDC has authorised using KN95 masks as a suitable alternative to N95 masks for its response to Covid-19 and the new Omicron variant.
The KN95 is practically equivalent to N95 in every aspect. Customers seem to believe that the N95 is superior at blocking airborne particles, but the KN95 is just as good, if not better. Many N95 [masks] are also made in parts of China and Asia, so the notion that all N95 are U.S.-created is also inaccurate.
What Does an N95 Mask Protect Against?
N95 respirators have two main advantages over simple cloth coverings or surgical masks. First, the report found that N95 masks are more than 95 per cent efficient at filtering 0.3-μm particles — particles even smaller than the droplets created when talking, coughing, or sneezing — making them an effective filter out germs and bacteria. Studies also found that N95 masks often fit better over the face and around the neck, ensuring that droplets and particles do not leak around the mask. Even if N95 filtration is unnecessary, N95 fit offers advantages over a loose-fitting surgical mask by eliminating leakage around the mask.
However, N95 masks are not designed to be used by children or people with significant facial hair. One of the main benefits of an N95 mask is its ability to secure a tight seal around the face; a child's face or a face with a beard will not allow the mask to offer the same protection.
Where to Buy KN95 Masks Online
A handful of companies have also pivoted their offerings to include KN95 masks. Among them: are Wistech.
Check out our full range of medical masks and don’t miss out on the on-going promotions here! [9.9, 10.10, 11.11, 12.12]