What you need to know about KN95 masks —including where to buy one

Laura Galvan


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Face masks are the go-to topic of conversation these days — and rightfully so. Amid COVID-19, scientific evidence and health experts have asserted that masks and face coverings “help reduce the transmission of droplets” that are said to spread the virus.

According to a newly published article from the Wall Street Journal, “Face masks are emerging as one of the most powerful weapons to fight the novel coronavirus, with growing evidence that facial coverings help prevent transmission—even if an infected wearer is in close contact with others.” The article also states that N95 masks are “considered among the most effective, but [are] typically reserved for health-care workers.”

Due to the shortage of N95, you’ve probably heard of your friends and family getting their hands on the KN95 masks. But what exactly is a KN95 mask — and how do they differ from N95 masks?

A data comparison chart created by face mask brand 3M —which evaluates KN95 masks, N95 masks and other filtering face-piece respirators — decodes the differences. The chart explains that the “N95 masks are the U.S. standard for respirator masks; KN95 masks are the Chinese standard for masks.” According to 3M, which manufactures the masks, “it is reasonable to consider” China’s KN95 masks “equivalent” to U.S. N95 masks.

Filter supplier SmartAirFilters writes on its website, “Lots of users care most about what percentage of particles the masks capture. On this metric, N95 and KN95 respirator masks are the same. Both masks are rated to capture 95 percent of tiny particles (0.3 micron particles, to be exact).”

While the CDC continues to recommend people wear face-covering masks in public “where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain,” most people have been looking to fabric face masks, especially with over 20 U.S. states requiring masks mandates. Unlike wash-and-reuse fabric masks, the majority of the KN95 masks are meant to be disposable. It’s unclear how the effectiveness of fabric masks stacks up to KN95 masks.

Out of all the retailers selling masks, Amazon definitely has the largest selection of KN95 masks options. However, with many different sellers available on Amazon, it is still crucial to do your research on the masks before purchasing.

You’ll see that many sellers are transparent in explaining that its KN95 masks “is not included on the FDA Emergency Use Authorization List,” and that after CDC testings it found “that the minimum filtration efficiency was below 95 percent.” On the other hand, this seller noted that “when used properly the mask provides a 95 percent or more filter efficiency.”

With all of these masks on the market, reading the fine print is key. Check out these best KN95 options we’ve found on Amazon.

Shop: SupplyAID KN95 Mask Protective Masks (5-pack), $17.60

Credit: Amazon

Credit: Amazon

Shop: Feradyne KN95 Mask (10 Pack), $31.27

Credit: Amazon