With such similar-sounding names, it can be confusing to understand the difference between N95 and KN95 masks. What are KN95 masks, and are they the same as N95 masks?
Figure: 3M’s N95 mask vs KN95 mask
Filtering respirator facepiece masks are subject to various regulatory standards and compliance guidelines from around the world. These guidelines and standards specify the required physical properties, performance characteristics, and functionality necessary for achieving a particular standard within a particular country.
In short, N95 masks are the US standards for respirator masks; KN95 masks are the Chinese standards for masks. The handy chart from 3M below explains the differences between N95 and KN95 masks. Despite the long list of differences, the two masks are equivalent or nearly equivalent to the features that most people care about.
Figure: 3M’s Mask Types Chart
What are the differences between the Jointown KN95 mask and the N95 mask?
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.
- 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.
What is the same for the Jointown KN95 mask and the N95 mask?
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).
Since N95 and KN95 masks are rated to capture 95% of 0.3-micron particles, people will often assume that masks can’t capture particles smaller than 0.3 microns. However, that’s not true. Wearing the Jointown mask are actually more effective at capturing smaller particles than many people believe.
In summary, N95s and KN95s are both rated to capture 95% of particles. Among the minor differences, only KN95 masks are required to pass fit tests, while N95 masks have slightly stronger breathability standards.
I hope this article gives useful guidelines on how to choose between the KN95 mask and the N95 mask. Personally, I find that the KN95 is easier and faster to put on and take off whereas the N95 seems to fit much more snug and with a tighter and firmer fit. Further, I find that the N95 masks, due to the tightness of the seal, are slightly more uncomfortable to wear, but give a feeling of greater protection.