As you have heard from basically every corner, we are in unprecedented times. The virus COVID-19 (also called Coronavirus) has thrown all of our lives off-kilter. One significant change that has come about is the use of face masks. Many states, counties, and towns have started to instate mask mandates, most of which require you to wear a face mask anytime you are in an enclosed public space. And for those areas that do not have a mandate in place, many stores, restaurants, and other establishments require them for entry. As a result, you can find masks just about everywhere. There is one kind of mask that has generated a certain degree of buzz. That would be the KN95 masks. But what exactly are they? How are they different from cloth face masks? Do they even work?
What are KN95 masks?
KN95 masks, if you have not guessed, are face masks that are made mainly for medical use. They are similar to N95 masks. The main difference lies in where they are made. N95 masks are made in America and, as a result, are required to meet specific criteria. KN95 is made in China. However, this does not mean that they are not held to a particular standard. They have to meet specific criteria as well; it is just that these criteria are set by the Chinese government rather than the US government. KN95 masks work just as well as N95 masks, but the testing is slightly different.
The reason why attention has shifted to KN95 from N95 is that the pandemic demands have made it difficult for people to get N95 masks. As a result, KN95 masks have become a good choice for many people as they are a bit more accessible.
KN95 masks have a 3D design that is easily foldable so that you can store them easily. They have comfortable ear loops so that you will not feel like something is tugging on your ears all day. KN95 masks have adjustable nose bridges that help ensure that the mask fits snuggly and securely. They also feature five layers of protection, keeping you and others safe. Many people prefer these masks because they are kind on the skin. They do not appear to cause any rashes or irritation.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have stated that while KN95 masks are made for one-time use, there are ways to safely use them multiple times. Since there is a shortage of masks, they do recommend doing this. You can read more about how do this here.
Do they do the job?
The whole point of face masks is to help control the spread of a virus. Of course, there are a lot of ways to do this, but masks do it by blocking droplets. In this case “droplets” refers to bits of spit and mucus that are expelled whenever someone coughs, sneezes, or raises their voice. Blocking these droplets helps prevent airborne viruses, like COVID-19, from spreading.
There is a fair amount of debate surrounding whether or not masks work. The CDC has maintained that while wearing a mask may not be perfect in keeping you from getting sick, they help you from accidentally spreading the disease. An important thing to remember about COVID-19 is that not everyone shows symptoms. Some people are entirely asymptomatic and are never aware that they had the virus at all. So, when everyone wears a mask it helps protect you, your friends, your family, and others.
KN95 masks are great options as masks. They are generally considered to be medical grade, which means that they are made to handle things like infectious diseases. They are FDA/CE approved, and the CDC has tested them. This testing found that they were able to filter at an efficiency level of 95%. Which is a very impressive level.
Many people have been opting to use cloth face masks. This is because they tend to be easier to find since most grocery and clothing stores have started selling them. They are also common because they are reusable. You just need to wash them after use to have them ready to be worn again. Even if you cannot find them in your local store, you can make your own. The CDC has released instructions on how to make your own from old t-shirts, bandanas, or any cotton fabric you may have. You can find the instructions here.
It is important to note that there have been reports of some counterfeit KN95 and N95 masks being sold to people. This is very dangerous as it is unclear if these masks are at all effective. Plus, we do not know the conditions of the facilities that they were produced it, whether they were manufactured in a sterile environment. So, when shopping for a mask, be sure to check for signs of them being counterfeit. These signs include:
- Lacking any markings on the mask
- No approval number on the mask
- No NIOSH markings
- NIOSH being misspelled
- Having decorative add-ons
- Claims that they are approved for use by children (they have not)
- Straps rather than actual ear loops
The CDC and NIOSH have been working hard to get these masks off the market. But in the meantime, be sure to keep an eye out and report anyone who may be selling these dangerous masks.
It should be noted that some KN95 and N95 masks have been made with filtration valves. These masks, like the counterfeit masks have not been approved for use and are generally considered dangerous. This is because the valve on the mask does not provide the filtration some claim. While it may be easier to breath while wearing a mask with a valve, it still lets droplets in and out. As a result, these masks are a potential danger to you and others.
KN95 masks are not always the easiest to find. So, if you cannot get your hands on some, that is okay. Cloth masks, while not as effective, still do work. But you may not have to use those, because we here at Panacea Life Sciences carry KN95 masks. We sell them in packs of 25 so that you will be covered for a more extended period. These are genuine KN95 masks, that will help provide you with protection and do not have any dangerous alterations, like filtration valves. Check them out along with our other Personal Protection Equipment here!