Facial masks and respirators have been used in numerous industries, especially in factories and the medical community. But since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, even an average Joe needs to get facial protection nowadays. Whether you like it or not, wearing a mask is the new norm for everyone under the quarantine.
Most of us are unfamiliar with different types of masks before. Did you know that there are other kinds of PPEs beside the famous surgical mask supply? In this article, we will learn about the KN95 mask, its materials, features, proper mask usage, and who it is really for.
Importance of Using Mask during the Pandemic
COVID-19 is transmitted in a lot of ways, either by direct contact or via the more communicable respiratory droplets. And since you can’t see the virus itself, there’s no way to know if the air surrounding you has these particles. Hence, it is recommended to wear a face mask in public places.
People should wear a mask when they’re going to get outside for hours to protect people who are greatly at risk in coronavirus, as well as to reduce local transfer. One of the best ways to protect yourself is by using a KN95 mask. In fact, many consider this option as the best one. Here are the details about KN95 masks.
What Is A KN95 Mask/KN95 Respirator?
The KN95 mask or respirator is another standard PPE manufactured and distributed by Chinese companies. It is just like the N95 respirator but is produced and regulated by the Chinese Government. Just last month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of these masks as an alternative for frontliners all around the country. As of now, frontliners and health workers are using this product when the America-made N95 masks are not available.
Unlike surgical masks, the KN95 respirator is a reusable one. It is known for a more comfortable fit, which makes it easier to use. Following the executive standard of GB2006-2626, each authentic piece of this mask is able to stop at least 95% of particles of the size 0.3 microns. Whether it’s a germ, a virus, dust, or infection-carrying particles, as long as its 0.3 microns and up, these will never get in your system when you’re wearing a KN95 mask.
Authorized manufacturers in China also make sure that everything is as hygienic as possible when manufacturing the masks. Each worker makes sure that minimal contact was made during the process, without compromising its quality. KN95 respirators are designed to last for a considerable amount of time, usually a week or two, at best. It’s a more economical alternative for people who are working in the frontline or for those who don’t have access to N95 or disposable surgical masks.
Some of the most notable features of a KN95 respirator is its thin and light multi-layered design. This facilitates high filtering ability while reducing the difficulty when breathing. With low resistance, your facial movements won’t feel restricted and uncomfortable. Areas in the mask are designed to allow sufficient airflow circulation, without the air going on to the mouth. In addition, these respirators have a rounded shape and thicker surface for better protection.
Are KN95 Masks Reusable?
Just like N95, KN95 masks are reusable for a certain amount of time before getting ineffective. This is very helpful for frontliners who need a very durable and reliable mask to do their roles in this pandemic. In addition to washing hands regularly, wearing a mask will help in preventing its users from acquiring the disease.
According to WebMD, there are four ways to sanitize face masks and respirators, similar to the KN95 mask. Out of four methods of sanitizing the mask, exposing it to vaporized hydrogen peroxide or UV light yields the best result.
But for people who are not in the medical industry and don’t have the tools to do so, you can steam or boil the mask at 125°C or 260°F for three minutes. Take note: don’t stir the mask while boiling, as it can reduce the efficiency. Only make sure that the mask is appropriately submerged in the water. Only do this method if you’re not using masks with paper layers (for both outer and inner layers).
Alternatively, you can make a rotating mask schedule if you don’t have time to decontaminate. The theory for this is using the time passed to kill the virus naturally (about a week). This is not really recommended because the mask can contaminate other areas. In addition, you need to have more masks on the reservation to make the rotation work.
Why KN95 Mask Is The Better Option?
There are a lot of reasons why a lot of countries are considering and even using the KN95 mask as an alternative for the standard masks. These masks are already available due to the Chinese Government successfully flattening the curve for COVID-19. Here are some of the most notable features of the KN95 mask.
- Reusable and cost-efficient – You can use the mask for more than once if you clean it properly. Because of reusability, the user doesn’t need to purchase more masks to cover their daily usage.
- Easy to clean – The masks are easy to clean and store. Please read the proper way of cleaning your mask above if you don’t have any dry heat sterilization or other medical facilities.
- Comfortable and fit securely – It is known to be more comfortable and easier to wear than other masks in the market.
- Adjustable nose clip – You can adjust your mask before going out, ensuring the fit in your face.
- Effective for both dust and droplet particles – KN95 masks are also used for factories and industrial settings. This means that it is very effective in protecting against dust particles and airborne droplets (from sneezing or coughing).
- Performs the same (or better) than other masks – Compared to other alternatives to N95 masks (such as surgical mask and homemade facial mask), the KN95 is the better choice even for medical practitioners.
Who Should Use KN95 Respirators?
Not all people are required to use masks and respirators. In fact, a disposable surgical mask would do if you’re going on the market to shop for necessities. The World Health Organization encourages people to follow the released guidelines in wearing respirators. You must also observe proper usage and proper disposal of a used mask.
You are only encouraged to wear KN95 respirators if you’re qualified for these conditions.
- If you are a staff in a medical facility
- If you are a staff of essential business still open during the quarantine
- If you are taking care of loved ones who are positive with COVID-19 and other airborne transmitted diseases
- If you are manifesting symptoms of the COVID-19 or other airborne transmitted diseases
Don’t touch the mask while you’re wearing it in public. Make sure to get the perfect fit for your face. Wash your hands before putting the mask and after removing it. Disinfect the mask immediately after use (for reusable masks) or discard it completely.
KN95 Mask vs. N95 Mask
In the times of a pandemic similar to COVID-19, we might not have enough supply. Take note: the health care industry is not the only one that needs to use the standard N95 masks or respirators. Supply is of utmost importance. Unfortunately, a mask is a Personal Protective Equipment or PPE; it needs to be made complying strict standards. That’s why even though the demand is there, it might be a hard thing to keep the supply running.
Because of this, there are several alternatives made available that works just like the N95 mask standard. One of those alternatives is the KN95 mask. What makes the KN95 mask different than an N95 mask? Check out the difference below.
The N95 Mask
The N95 masks are used all around the world because of their efficiency in filtering unwanted particles in the air. It follows the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) standard. When it comes to performance, the N95 mask performs similarly to KN95 masks. It is commonly used in Western countries and slightly less resistance than the KN95.
The KN95 Mask
In functionality and performance, the KN95 masks are similar to N95 masks. One of the notable differences between the two is that KN95 masks follow the GB2626-2006 standard, which has been updated recently to meet the requirements. It can tolerate more exhalation force than the N95 mask (the exhalation force affects the durability of the mask). In addition, the mask works better in a pressurized environment than the N95 counterpart.
Other kinds of masks you can use during a pandemic
As of now, the general public has three types of face masks that they can use in the midst of the pandemic. Both N95 and KN95 masks are recommended if you’re going to be in public for a long period. Wearing a mask is essential if social distancing is not possible. Another recommendation is disposable surgical masks. This is the mask you usually see in hospital-themed movies and TV shows. If both of these are not available in your area, homemade cloth face masks will do.
Meanwhile, medical professionals have more choices of masks if the supply is enough. N95 and KN95 masks are the most popular and most cost-efficient options in the market. But there are other masks available in the market, made with other standards developed by other countries.
What are the other filtration standards?
- US Standards – follows NIOSH air filtering standard, masks that can filter at least 95% of airborne particles (N95, N99, N100, R95, R99, R100, P95, P99, and P100).
- European Standards – follows European EN 149 standards, can filter at least 80% (lower class) to 99.95% (higher class) airborne particles (FFP1, FFP2, FFP3, P1, P2, and P3 masks).
- Other Standards – these standards are issued by other countries. China uses GB2626-2006, Australia, and New Zealand uses AS/NZ 1716:2012, Korea uses KMOEL – 2017-64, and Japan uses its own MHLW-Notification 214, 2018.
- Non-NIOSH – masks that are specially made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Mexican N95, Brazilian PFF2, and Japanese DS2)
Signs that your KN95 mask is fake
Because of the pandemic, the supply for authentic masks is not quite enough, while the demand is constantly rising. Unfortunately, this is seen as an opportunity to cash in quick bucks and sell low-quality counterfeits. According to experts, low quality KN95 counterfeits won’t even protect someone from ashes and simple particles. Here are the main things to consider when you are shopping KN95 masks online.
1. There is no marking at all.
Authentic KN95 should have labeling and important information printed in the mask itself. For example, the model number (####), the lot number (####), and the brand name of the manufacturer, which should also be visible along with its TC approval number (###-####). Any packaging with NIOSH for KN95 masks is not valid, as other standards rule KN95 masks.
2. The packaging is not that great.
Another tell-tale thing about counterfeits is poor packaging. If your mask arrived and is only wrapped with a generic packaging and box, there’s a high possibility that it’s a counterfeit. An authentic KN95 mask will package the masks separately before putting them in a box. Make sure to take a good look at the packaging, too. Counterfeits usually have blurry fonts and letters that are not uniform.
3. Loose Fit and Soft Material
If the KN95 mask is soft or softer than an average surgical mask, then it is likely a counterfeit product. It might seem like a good catch because it’s cheaper and more comfortable, but these counterfeits don’t work at all. Counterfeits will have a looser fit because of its flawed imitated designs. Take a good look at the breathing valve. If it’s too yellowish or is in a lighter shade, it’s time to look at another store.