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Are There Any Differences Between An N95 And KN95 Mask?

Are There Any Differences Between An N95 And KN95 Mask?

“Are you struggling to figure out whether you should pick up the N95 or stick with the KN95 mask during the pandemic? Are there any differences between the two? It seems like the pandemic is not going away any time soon as we’ve entered the fifth wave now. “

Things have gotten more serious with the new variant – omicron on the streets. In these circumstances, you’re required to protect yourself by wearing masks. However, there seems to be a tie between the N95 and KN95. We understand that you’ll be anxiously questioning which mask is the better choice.

In this article, we’ll be going over the difference between N95 and KN95 so you’ll be able to determine better which mask can provide you with the best protection. So, keep reading.

Differences Between N95 And KN95

Here is an overview over the difference between N95 and KN95.

  • Certification

Certification is the key difference between the two. N95 has been designed to meet the US standards, while KN95 caters to Chinese standards. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which works under the CDC, puts the N95 masks through rigorous testing.

However, the route for the approval for KN95 masks is different where they reach out to the FDA. The FDA requires KN95 manufacturers to provide authentic documentation attesting to the quality of the masks. Additionally, the KN95 masks are put through fit-testing, where the air is tested inside and outside the mask and how well they fit around the wearer. N95 are not required to go through fit-testing.

  • Breathability

The N95 mask follows strict requirements for pressure drop when inhaling. This is, in fact, a good thing because it makes breathing in the mask relatively easier. KN95 is the opposite. You may find it a little harder to breathe in these. With that said, you don’t have to worry about death from suffocation when wearing a KN95 mask.

Additionally, the N95 masks follow the same restrictions for exhaling as well, which overall helps with breathability while wearing a mask.

  • Total Inward Leakage

Both of these masks were tested for total inward leakage on human test subjects while they performed strenuous exercise. It was found that there is no inward leakage in the N95 masks, while the KN95 masks showed a total inward leakage of 8 per cent.

  • Total Inward Leakage

Total inward leakage is an estimate of a respirator’s performance. The test determines the leakage of contamination through the filter media. The number should be zero in the perfect mask, as it is for the N95. However, the KN95 shows some leakage as you experience heavy breathing.

  • CO2 Clearance Requirement 

CO2 clearance prevents the buildup of CO2 inside the mask. Consequently, CO2 clearance requirements measure just how fast the mask leaks out CO2. N95 doesn’t go through the test that gives these numbers.

However, KN95 masks are subjected to tests to determine the CO2 clearance requirement. The tests revealed that for KN95 masks, the CO2 clearance requirement was less than one per cent which, explained in simpler terms, is good enough and doesn’t allow for the buildup of CO2 in the mask.

Similarities Between N95 And KN95

The N95 and KN95 also share some similarities. The two are made from multiple layers of polypropylene – a synthetic plastic polymer for starters. They’re both three-ply masks. Both of them cover your mouth and nose with straps on your ears. The two even share the same filtering capacity.

Both N95 and KN95 masks have been known to filter out 95 per cent of the air inhaled by the user. They can filter out substances as small as 0.3 microns. The two also share the downside of causing discomfort after wearing it for a long period of time.

Overall, there are only minute differences between the two types of masks. As far as filterability is concerned, both show the same numbers, which is the main concern. N95 are the best out there, and as far as KN95 masks are concerned, they are equally as good, if not better.

Are KN95 masks reusable?

Yes, KN95 masks are reusable. KN95 masks were initially designed for single use. However, the CDC has allowed multiple uses. The guidelines recommend reusing the mask no more than five times. Health experts recommend that you rotate between three masks.

To do so, make sure to sanitize your hands and keep your marks out there so they can remain dry and clean. They’ve laid a lot of emphasis on not touching the masks with unsanitized hands, so make sure to take care of that.

Can N95 protect against the omicron variant?

Yes, the N95 mask can protect against the omicron variant. IN fact, they are the most effective. Studies have shown that these masks have reduced the risk for health workers contracting the virus by half compared to surgical masks.

Additionally, data has shown that transmission of the virus can be reduced 75 fold when a person wearing the N95 approaches a sick person.

Are cloth masks effective?

No, cloth masks are not effective. They can’t protect you against the omicron variant or any other variant for that matter. The material for the cloth cannot filter out the viral particles since the pores are not small enough. Health experts instead direct the use of three-ply masks like N95 and KN95.


Summing it up, the pandemic requires you to wear a mask at all times. There are many options in the market, with N95 and KN95 popping up the most. The two may sound the same, but there is some difference between N95 and KN95. N95 is US approved for starters, whereas the KN95 meets Chinese standards.

You may also find the N95 more breathable than the KN95. However, the main factor, i.e. filterability, remains the same, making both of them safe choices for you to wear. We hope this article cleared up your confusion. If you still have any, feel free to reach out. Stay safe!

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