KN95 VS N95 Mask
N95 Face Mask versus KN95 Cloth Masks
Conronavirus (COVID-19) is a global pandemic unprecedented in modern times. In the United States, state and federal government officials have changed guidelines and warnings multiple times, creating confusion. One of the most recent changes was the approval of the use of KN95 masks. These masks are similar to the N95 Face Masks. Differences are outlined below.
The Coronavirus Itself
In order to understand the connection between face masks and how they fight the coronavirus, it is first important to understand the virus itself. While the wider domestic and international community has learned about this virus recently, health professionals and scientists have long known about it. There are different strands of coronaviruses.
But this particular one is an enveloped, linear, single-stranded RNA virus with a helical capsid. The average diameter of the virus is 120 n.m. or .12 micrometers. It is most often responsible for the common cold. This extremely contagious virus is responsible for large outbreaks, like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and now COVID-19. It can be deadly.
Covid-19 is transmitted through respiratory secretions. When people cough, the respiratory droplets can get onto their hands, objects, or even other people. If the droplets get into people’s mouths or noses, they can be inhaled into the lungs, transmitting the virus. Generally, infected people develop symptoms 2-14 days on average after exposure. However, this is not a rule, and symptoms could appear even after 14 days. so it is imperative to keep unclean hands away from your face.
Best Prevention Methods
Center For Disease Control recommend a combination of masks, hygiene, and social distancing to avoid contracting the virus. Masks are covered below. Hygiene mainly consists of washing one’s hands and disinfecting surfaces. Scientists have determined that washing hands with soap for at least 20 seconds is effective as using at least 60% alcohol sanitizer for 1 minute for disinfecting. Not touching one’s face also decreases the chance of contracting this highly contagious virus.
Another major piece of hygiene is disinfecting surfaces. Effective and easily accessible disinfectants products include bleach, alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. These disinfectant products on this list have not directly been tested specifically against SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, they are expected to be effective against SARS-CoV-2 because they have been tested and proven effective on either a harder-to-kill virus or against another human coronavirus similar to SARS-CoV-2, according to US Environmental Protection Agency. All and all, these disinfectants should be allowed to sit for at least 1 minute before they are wiped away for best practices.
Some consumers have opted to making their own disinfect sprays since there is now a shortage of these products due to “panic buying.” But just make sure you use a mixture of 0.5% hydrogen peroxide and vinegar, alcohol that is at least 60% in strength or a mixture of either 1/3 cup of bleach in a gallon of water or 4 teaspoons of bleach in one quart of water. All are just as effective.
Social Distancing is a major part of the public health response. Social Distancing means that people need to stay home unless going to public spaces is absolutely necessary. When outside in public, people were previously told to remain 6 feet away from others at all times, but recent reports shows the virus can travel at least 13 feet away, so people SHOULD start adopting this habit if than can.
Sadly, the virus isolates people from even seeing family and friends they do not live with. And what’s even worse is if people who live together catches the virus, they have to quarantine themselves for at least 14 days or more, which puts more emotional stress on people. Quarantine definition discussed below.
So what does quarantine mean? Some people are quarantined or isolated. Quarantine is for people at-risk for developing coronavirus, like those who have been around corona-positive people or who have traveled recently. Lastly, isolation is for those who have been confirmed positive. These people are completely removed from everyone, including family members.
Mask Use Overview
Masks come in many different varieties. There are cloth coverings, like cloth face coverings and bandanas. There are also surgical ones, which drape over the nose and mouth but are not tight around the sides like other specialized ones. Both N95 and KN95 are effective coverings that fit closely to the face to create an effective seal against the virus. And the material in both are specially woven to filter out small particles. There is not a big difference between them.
In the United States, the official guidelines are to use cloth coverings if no face mask is available when out in the community, especially in high traffic places like grocery stores, gas stations, department stores, etc. Cloth coverings are not entirely effective as face masks, but they are better than no protection at all.
As stated above, N95 and KN95 are very similar. Both are formulated to filter out 95% of particles that are 0.3 microns or larger. The N95’s are not available because they are reserved for medical workers. But to be clear, there is no real difference between theses masks. The FDA and the CDC has approved the KN95 as an alternative when the N95 isn’t available.
The other major difference between the two lie in respiratory specifications. These include flow rate, inhalation pressure, exhalation resistance, force applied, and CO2 clearance requirement. So as you see, there is no big difference between these two products.
COVID-19 is a frightening time, but just protect yourself at all times, rubber gloves, face masks, wash hands, disinfect, and you will be fine. There are certain steps you can take to decrease the chances of contracting the virus. Again, beyond basic hygiene and social distancing, one major way to decrease the risk of contracting the virus is use a face masks to prevent the infected saliva droplets that live in the air. Please stay safe!
Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “N95 Respirators and Surgical Masks (Face Masks).” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, www.fda.gov/medical-devices/personal-protective-equipment-infection-control/n95-respirators-and-surgical-masks-face-masks.
Comparison of FFP2, KN95, and N95 Filtering Facepiece …multimedia.3m.com/mws/media/1791500O/comparison-ffp2-kn95-n95-filtering-facepiece-respirator-classes-tb.pdf.
“Frequently Asked Questions.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 Apr. 2020, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#Coronavirus-Disease-2019-Basics.
“Q&A On Coronaviruses (COVID-19).” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses#:~:text=It is not certain how,up to several days.
“Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of N95 Respirators: COVID-19.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9 Apr. 2020, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/respirators-strategy/index.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/respirators-strategy/crisis-alternate-strategies.html.