By Amy Rogers
As COVID-19 continues its march across the globe, many basic medical supplies are in short supply. PPE items that are in especially high demand are N95 respirator masks. To ensure American healthcare workers have the protective equipment they need, the FDA announced last week that approved KN95 masks were an acceptable substitute for N95 masks. What's the difference between the two types of masks? Are imported KN95 masks truly equivalent to the N95 masks produced domestically? Most importantly, how can you be sure you're buying the real thing (and not a fraudulent product)? In this post, we'll answer those questions and more. Read on to learn more about the similarities between N95 and KN95 masks.
Understanding Mask RatingsBefore we discuss KN95 and N9s respirator masks, let's briefly discuss how masks are rated. Masks rated "N95" or higher are the gold standard in the medical world. They provide maximum protection (99%) at filtering out airborne pathogens. From here, masks are rated at Level 1, 2, or 3 depending on:
- Bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE%)
- Differential pressure
- Sub-micron particulate filtration efficiency (PFE%)
- Fluid resistance
Why Are N95 Respirator Masks in High Demand?N95 masks are recommended by the CDC for medical workers during the coronavirus outbreak. These masks have been evaluated, tested, and approved by NIOSH (as per the requirements in 42 CFR Part 84). Because of their tight fit and user seal check requirement, they're highly effective at reducing the wearer's exposure to airborne particles. This includes at least 95% of large and small droplets, as well as small particle aerosols. When properly worn and fitted, only minimal leakage occurs during exhalation around the edges of the mask. This greatly reduces the risk of disease transmission between patients and medical workers. It should be noted that most N95 respirators are made for use in construction jobs that expose workers to small particles and dust. The N95 respirator masks made for the medical community are designed to be single-use and disposable.
What Should I Know About the KN95 Mask?If you're struggling to equip your staff with N95 respirator masks, you'll be relieved to know that the KN95 is a suitable alternative. In fact, a new technical bulletin has labeled them the "equivalent" of the N95. Approved products are now allowed by the FDA to be imported into the US from Chinese manufacturers. According to the new bulletin, the KN95 mask is comparable to the N95 mask in terms of:
- Filter performance
- Flow rate
- Total inward leakage (TIL)
- Inhalation resistance
- Exhalation resistance
- Pressure drop
Important Things to Know About Face MasksThe FDA's approval of KN95 masks is certainly good news, but what does that mean for Americans? For starters, KN95 and N95 respirator masks are NOT for use by the general public. These are high-demand supplies that must be made available to those who need them most — our medical workers and first responders. To prevent the spread of coronavirus among the general public, the CDC recommends social distancing, hand washing, and cloth face coverings. If you are a healthcare professional and need approved masks for your staff, be sure to order your KN95 masks from a reputable supplier. This includes Dealyze PPE, which just released this statement:
"Dealyze PPE Supply ensures that the KN95 masks that they are importing are manufactured by an FDA registered company and due to our vetted procurement process, including requiring safety certificates and lab reports, we can guarantee the highest level of Authenticity and Quality Control throughout the purchasing and supply chain process."Dealyze PPE is also proud to offer special discounts and bulk purchasing quotes to qualifying medical and emergency facilities.