What is a KN95 mask?
KN95 masks and N95 masks have very minute differences between them. As we know, N95 filters out approximately 95 % of medium size airborne-particles (0.3-micron particles), and 100% of large and small-sized airborne particles. The KN95 also works to the same extent.
The primary difference is that the N95 is approved for use by the Federal Drug Administration of the United States, whereas KN95 is the standard for China. The second difference between an N95 and a KN95 is that KN95 is regulated in size and comes in a wide range of sizes, whereas N95 does not and comes in a few fixed sizes. KN95, like its N95 cousin, also has a lot of thin strings of polymer interwoven to make a mesh-like internal structure that is used to trap impurities that make it through the outer layer of the mask. Since these masks are size regulated, some people might find them to be more suitable to their needs. However, there is little to no evidence on either being better than the other.
How to use a KN95 mask?
The main aim of KN95 masks is to reduce the chance of breathing in suspended particles, which include harmful pathogens of all sorts and a lot of other potentially hazardous contaminants like sawdust and paint fumes. KN95 masks are disposable facemasks and are considered safe to be worn for 8-12 hours in one go at a time since excessive moisture buildup on the inside of the mask reduces the effectiveness of blocking foreign particles’ filter membrane. Since the mask isn’t washable, it should be replaced once the user starts noticing the first signs of soiling or dirt buildup on the inside or outside the mask.
As these masks come in various sizes, it is of the utmost importance to find the size that fits you the best for getting the most out of your mask.
What can I do to maximize performance from my KN95?
First of all, always buy an approved KN95 mask from a reputed manufacturer, like 3M. This guarantees consistency of quality, and choosing a fairly prestigious brand also means that a lot of people have tried and tested their products and are currently using them.
What is also important is how you handle the mask. Always use a 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer or wash your hands if you want to put on your mask or adjust it. If it is touched with dirty hands, there is a chance that harmful microbes or pollutants in question get transferred onto the other layer of the mask. If they stay there and the mask is worn for prolonged periods, moisture buildup from your breath might give them a fair bit of help to transfer from the outer layer to the inner layer of the mask, and they might eventually seep into your body through your breath.
Another thing to avoid is repeated touching on the outside. Just like moisture may help germs enter the mask, frequent and persistent touching might help push pathogens and contaminants through the protective membrane and into the mask.
KN95 masks saw a boom in use in the United States of America because, at the start of the pandemic in February and March, there was a critical shortage in the supply of all kinds of PPE. The shortage has since subsided, but the use of KN95 continues as there are no critical differences between a KN95 and a more well-known N95. One particular demographic where KN95 has seen a much higher rate of use is among kids. N95 doesn’t come in a lot of sizes and are usually too big to be deemed useful to children below the age of 14-15, due to their small facial structure. Children’s clinics and pediatricians continue recommending KN95 to families with kids.
Choosing the Mask
It is entirely up to the user whether they want to buy an N95 or a KN95. What certainly matters is how one wears it. If you feel N95 is just excellent and fits you well, get an N95. If you are skeptical of the fit, try KN95’s of different sizes, one of them is bound to fit well, leaving no air gaps between the mask and surface of your face which otherwise might compromise your safety.