What’s The Difference Between N95 and KN95 Masks?Mark Watts
One of the most common questions we are asked is about the KN95 mask and how is it different from many of the other masks on the market today.
It can be confusing to understand the difference between say N95 and KN95 masks. This handy chart explains the differences between N95 and KN95 masks (and all characteristics that are the same). In short, N95 masks are the US standards for respirator masks; KN95 masks are the Chinese standards for masks. These are the requirements that the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health requires manufacturers to meet in order to label their masks as N95s. Despite the long list of differences, the two masks are equivalent or nearly equivalent on the features that most people care about.
Based on this comparison, it is reasonable to consider the following globe standards for mask testing to give a clear understanding of the benefits of the KN95 mask for daily protection.
According to mask manufacturers, “it is reasonable to consider” China’s KN95s “equivalent” to US N95s. Mask standards for Europe (FFP2), Australia (P2), Korea (KMOEL), and Japan (DS) are also highly similar.
Lots of users care most about what percentage of particles the masks capture. On this metric, N95 and KN95 respirator masks are the same. Both masks are rated to capture 95% of tiny particles (0.3 micron particles, to be exact).
Most of these differences are small and would be uninteresting to the average mask user. However, here are the key differences:
- To be certified as a KN95 mask, the Chinese government requires the manufacturer to run mask fit tests on real humans with ≤ 8% leakage. The N95 mask standard does not require manufacturers to run fit tests. This does not mean that fit tests aren’t helpful. Many hospitals and companies require their workers to be fit-tested. However, those are requirements of companies themselves, not for the US certification on the mask.
- N95 masks have slightly stricter requirements for pressure drop while inhaling. That means they’re required to be slightly more breathable than KN95 masks.
- N95s also have slightly stricter requirements for pressure drop while exhaling, which should help with breathability.
Conclusion: N95s and KN95s are both rated to capture 95% of particles, although only KN95 masks are required to pass a fit test. N95 masks have slightly stronger requirements for breathability.
For more information on individual face maks and manufacturer standards please see product details on our KN95 masks here…