Ever since the coronavirus pandemic, there has been growing evidence that supports the idea of wearing face masks in public for prevention, along with strict lockdowns and quarantine practices to curb the virus' spread.
Being one of the most effective protective gears against the spread of the virus, the popularity of face masks has increased over the past few months. We're all wearing them to stay protected and away from the deadly virus; however, are masks the best option for attaining the highest defense?
Currently, there are so many masks in the market, that it is becoming harder to tell which ones offer the most protection and which ones don't. For this reason, medical professionals have claimed the N95, or its Chinese counterpart, the KN95, to be the masks that provide the highest protection against the air-borne virus, even during surgical procedures.
Difference between the N95 and the KN95?
To people like us, with little knowledge about masks, these two masks might come off as the same. While both masks claim to capture 95% of all tiny particles, precisely of the size 0.3 micron, some minor differences set them apart.
N95 masks are disposable face masks made in line with the U.S. standards for respiratory masks. So, these masks are approved by the U.S. medical healthcare facilities and are locally produced. If you live in the U.S. and have access to the N95, its best to buy the N95 either online or in shops, as it meets all the requirements set by the NIOSH and will be the best option keeping in mind the country's environment, atmosphere, and viral load.
Whereas, the KN95 masks are streamlined by the Chinese standards for respiratory masks and are made in line with the Chinese healthcare services and the country's environment. The only striking difference between the two is that the KN95 requires a fit test to determine whether the mask is a good fit for you or not.
Which mask offers better protection?
Although both the masks have the same rate of basic protection, the N95 is a clear winner when put upfront against the KN95, offering better protection.
Since the N95 is thicker and fits tightly around your full face, nose and mouth, if worn correctly, it offers higher protection against the virus. In technical terms, the mask is made out of various layers of polypropylene fibers, which trap the incoming and outgoing particles. This is mainly because the N95 is tested to withstand strong pressure against that of KN95, which simply means that for the person wearing the N95, inhaling and exhaling is a lot easier with better resistance against infectious diseases.
Similarly, the N95 mask has a leak rate of less than 1%, whereas the KN95 has a higher leak rate, averaging at 8%, which shows that the mask does not provide as much protection as you think it does.
All in all, the KN95 is still the best alternative to the N95, especially in Australia. At the end of the day, staying safe against the virus comes down to maintaining physical distance, frequent handwashing, and disinfecting products.