There are several differences between KN95 and N95 masks but some of them are rather minor and will not have a big impact on their performance during this pandemic. However, there are a few significant differences that everyone should be aware of before ordering one type of mask over the other.
Mask Fit Tests
One of these differences is that KN95 masks have to undergo a mask fit test if they want to become certified. Not only do they have to take the test but they also have to pass it by achieving 8 percent or lower leakage. These tests are crucial since the ability of a mask to properly fit your face has a significant impact on how well it will protect you during this pandemic.
Surgical masks are the perfect example of why fit tests are so important when it comes to protective masks. The main factor that makes them so ineffective at preventing you from catching COVID-19 is the fact that the particles can easily travel around the edges of the mask and go in behind them to enter the nose or mouth. That’s why it’s not surprising that surgical masks have a leakage rating of about 37 percent.
But just because N95 masks do not require this during the manufacturing process, this does not mean that they have a poor fit. They are still made to be an incredibly secure fit that can compete with even the best KN95 masks. To help ensure this, N95 masks are often subjected to private fit tests run by the hospitals and other companies when receiving their PPE shipments.
When you are wearing any mask, you are inevitably going to experience a slight increase in the amount of effort needed to breathe through it. However, some masks are going to have a much bigger impact on this than other types of masks.
Generally speaking, N95 masks tend to make it easier to inhale while wearing them as compared to KN95 masks. This is because N95 mask regulations require that the product maintain an inhalation resistance that is equal to or less than 343 Pa. On the other hand, KN95 masks are subject to the same tests but only require that their products receive a rating of equal to or less than 350 Pa. This difference of 7 Pa is not massive but is certainly going to cause a noticeable difference when trying to inhale in both types of masks.
The same also applies to the exhalation resistance, which is another big contributor to how breathable the mask is. With any N95 mask, this rating needs to be equal to or less than 245 Pa. When doing the same test with a KN95 mask, the rating can be as much as 250 Pa. This is once again going to be a change that is not major but is enough to be noticeable. And when you are doing a physically active task like walking, performing home renovations, or doing high-stress hospital work, then breathability is of the utmost importance.