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What's the Difference Between N95 & KN95 Masks?


With different mask types available to Canadian doctors, clinic managers, front-line workers, and citizens, it's difficult to tell which mask will effectively protect against airborne particles.


Purchasing managers might be wondering - is an N95 mask equivalent to a KN95 mask? What makes one different from the other?


At Surgo, we want to guide you to the right products and the right answers.




American vs Chinese Standard

The main difference between a KN95 and N95 mask is that the N95 is the American standard while the KN95 is the Chinese standard. The KN95 is the most widely available respirator that meets international standards, according to the CDC.



What are the differences in KN95 and N95 testing standards?

Both the N95 and KN95 masks are rated to capture 95% (or 0.3 micron) of particles. The KN95 standard requires a fit test on real human beings while the N95 standard does not require a fit test.


One slight difference is that the N95 standard has stricter requirements for breathability (the ability for air to be breathed in and out of the mask) than the KN95.



View the Testing Chart Below for More Information




What does the CDC say about KN95 masks?

The CDC has expressed that KN95 respirators (commonly referred to as masks) offer higher levels of protection than a cloth or procedural mask:


"Loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection, layered finely woven products offer more protection, well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s offer even more protection, and well-fitting NIOSH-approved respirators (including N95s) offer the highest level of protection." 


While the KN95 may not offer the highest level of protection vs the N95, CDC officials are still encouraging people to upgrade to a KN95 mask to protect against the highly transmissible Omicron variant.





Are KN95 masks safe?

Yes, when fit-tested and worn correctly. KN95 masks are classified as respirators by the CDC and are required to meet strict testing standards to be labeled as such.


In fact, after the omicron variant spread through the US Capitol in January, members of the US Congress were informed that House staff would be provided with KN95 masks in place of surgical masks.


According to mask manufacturer 3M, it is "reasonable to consider China KN95 as "equivalent” to US NIOSH N95 and European FFP2 respirators."



Where can I purchase reliable KN95 masks?

The CDC has put together a knowledge guide that helps you identify potentially counterfeit KN95 masks.


Some important factors and tips to remember before making your purchase:

  • Confirm the filtration efficiency
  • Ensure wearers are fit-tested
  • Ask for samples before making a purchase
  • Evaluate the head harness design
  • Attempt to locate a test report from the manufacturer
  • Locate the KN95 markings required on the packaging


Image Source: CDC


Surgo Surgical Supply offers reliable KN95 masks at an affordable price. Our team has worked with suppliers to bring you top-quality KN95 masks so that you can get back to what matters most: caring for your patients.