It is not hard to see that the COVID-19 virus (also called Coronavirus) has changed everything. One major change is masks. Pretty much everyone now has a few face masks sitting around their house, because many countries, states, counties, and cities have instituted mask mandates. These mandates require people to wear face masks when in enclosed public spaces. Even in places where there is no mandate, stores and restaurants are requiring that their customers be wearing them before entry. Or people are just choosing to wear them whether or not it is required of them out of respect for their safety and that of others.
As a result, there seems to be masks everywhere, different kinds with confusing sounding names. This has probably left you and others with questions. Luckily, we here at Panacea Life sciences are all about answers and education. So, we decided to focus on one specific kind of medical-grade face mask, KN95 masks.
What makes KN95 masks so special?
Let’s start by explaining what exactly KN95 masks are in the first place.
You have more likely heard of N95 masks rather than KN95. This is because while these two kinds of masks are very similar there is one major difference between them: where they are manufactured. N95 masks are manufactured in the United States, while KN95 masks are made in China. This means that there are slightly different regulations involved in the production and testing. However, that does not make one mask better than the other. It just means that the testing was slightly different.
When COVID-19 made its way to the United States, medical-grade masks, like the N95 masks, sold out very quickly. This led to a general shortage of masks in the United States for a time. As a result, many people have started turning to KN95 masks, as they are so similar to N95 and were more readily available.
KN95 masks go through rigorous testing before they are allowed to go out onto the market. These tests have shown that they are 95% effective in blocking bacteria and particles. They have a nice foldable design, making them easy to store. KN95 masks are made with five layers of protective materials. They have been made with skin in mind, to help avoid irritation and rashes. KN95 masks have adjustable nose bridges, to help ensure a snug fit. They have been tested approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). While they were originally designed for one-time use, the WHO has advised that they can be reused. This is greatly encouraged because, as mentioned before, there has been a shortage of masks. You can read the CDC’s guide on how to store the masks for continued use here.
Anyone who is interested in buying KN95 masks should be aware that the CDC and NIOSH have reported that there have been counterfeit KN95 and N95 masks out on the market. While the agencies are doing what they can to get these masks off the market, it is still good to know how to identify a fake. It may be a fake N95 or KN95 mask if:
- The mask is completely free of any or all markings
- There are no approval numbers anywhere on the mask
- The NIOSH marking is misspelled
- There is any sort of decoration or general add-on on the mask
- The packaging claims that the masks may be used on children (none of these masks are the right size for children)
You can read more about these counterfeit masks here.
There have been some KN95 masks that have been made with filtration valves on them. These masks are not approved or recommended by NOISH or the CDC. This is because the valves make the masks ineffectual. Some people have been leaning towards masks like these because they feel like they make it easier to breath while wearing a mask. However, the filtration in the valve will not prevent the virus from penetrating the mask barrier. So, these masks could still be putting you and others in danger.
Masks are important to wear as they help keep you and those around you safe from COVID-19. When they are combined with social distancing, self-quarantining, sterilization, and consistent handwashing, the contagion rates of the virus appear to go down. But taking all of these measures can be difficult if you cannot find KN95 masks to wear. What are you to do in that situation?
What if I cannot find a KN95 mask?
This is not an uncommon problem. In fact, as mentioned above, the shortage of masks is the reason why people have started turning to KN95 masks rather than N95 masks. However, that does not mean that they are always easy to find. If you, for whatever reason, cannot get your hands on a KN95 mask, that is okay. There are other alternatives.
Many people have started using cloth masks in lieu of medical ones. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that they are easier to find. Many stores, whether they are grocery or clothing stores have started selling them. Another reason is that they are made to be reused. Cloth masks only require a wash in a typical washing machine in order to be ready to be used again. If you still cannot buy cloth masks, the CDC has published a guide on how to make your own using old t-shirts or spare pieces of cotton fabric.
Despite how convenient these masks are, they may not be as effective as medical-grade masks like KN95. Of course, any mask is preferred over wearing none. This is because masks are used not only to help keep yourself safe from COVID-19, but they are also helpful in making sure that the virus is not spread by those who may not be aware that they have it.
However, if you would prefer a KN95 mask, we here at Panacea Life Sciences totally understand. In fact, we keep KN95 masks in stock for those looking for medical-grade Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). Our KN95 masks come in packs of 25 so that you can be protected for longer. These masks have been tested by the CDC and have been shown to be 95% effective at blocking airborne virus from entering your respiratory tract. Plus, they do not have filtration valves, so you know that they will help keep you safe. You can check out our KN95 masks here. Or, if you are looking for more than just masks, you can take a look at our PPE category on our site here. We carry masks, gloves, thermometers, and hand sanitizers so that you can help ensure that you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy.