With just over a year of its emergence, the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has wreaked havoc all over the world. However, its most devastating effects are perhaps felt in the U.S., where it continues to spread like wildfire.
But all hope is not lost. With widespread vaccine distribution on the horizon, things are slowly looking up. With that, everyone has to continue adhering to health and safety protocols until the tangible change takes place.
Since one of the most critical practices in this regard comes in the form of wearing face masks, the suggestion to don protective face coverings remains right on top of current public health advisories. It applies to the general public and healthcare professionals alike, with the latter requiring special filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) such as N95 and KN95 masks to fulfill this requirement.
But given that N95 face masks keep facing a shortage in their supply, the popularity and usage of KN95 masks have grown exponentially in the past few months. It is for a good reason as well, since KN95 respirators provide optimal protection against COVID-19 in various high-risk settings.
To see why KN95 masks have become so sought after COVID-19, here’s an overview of these FFRs and what they bring to the wearer’s table.
What Do KN95 Masks Do?
Since FDA approved KN95masks particulate FFRs, they block out harmful pollutants in the air from entering the wearer’s respiratory system. Their synthetic material can filter at least 95 percent of such particles from dust, fumes, and mists through the layered design of their synthetic material.
But apart from the material itself, these masks deliver their required protection through their overall design. Their professionally-fit structure is developed to cover the wearer’s nose seamlessly and mouth to protect them from inhaling any harmful particles from the surrounding air. Since this design also prevents any leakage from the edges of the mask, it creates a proper seal that doesn’t let external air in without first passing through the mask’s filter.
This makes sure that the wearer only takes in clean air that is free of harmful particles. This particular quality shines through for professionals such as healthcare workers and construction workers who work in high-risk environments filled with pollutants such as viruses and sawdust.
What Makes These Masks So Potent Against COVID-19?
The novel coronavirus is mainly spread from person to person. If anyone who has COVID-19 talks, breathes, coughs, or sneezes, they release tiny respiratory droplets into the air. If an individual with no history of COVID-19 comes in contact with these microdroplets, they run a high risk of contracting the novel coronavirus.
To reduce the risk of transmission, the general public is advised to keep their face covered at all times where social distancing is not possible. These face coverings absorb the majority of respiratory droplets of the wearer. As a result, they ensure that if the wearer has an asymptomatic COVID-19 infection, they reduce their chances of inadvertently spreading it to other people.
With that being said, these surgical masks or cloth masks don’t protect the wearer themselves. Since neither of these masks provides a 100% seal or filtration, the wearer can still breathe in the virus particles if they come in contact with a COVID-19 patient.
Keeping this in mind, healthcare workers are advised to don FFRs that actively filter the air for the wearer. This lowers their chances of catching the novel coronavirus infection from their patients in and out of COVID-19 treatment settings.
Due to their overall design and functionality, KN95 FFRs are considered to be highly effective in providing protection against virus particles that cause COVID-19. That is why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved their usage in the U.S. for COVID-19 treatment settings amid the shortage of N95 masks.
How Do They Differ From N95 Masks?
When you read all of the qualitiesand features of KN95 masks above, it’s natural to think about N95 masks that perform the same functions. However, N95 FFRs differ from KN95 respirators due to a number of reasons.
The first and foremost distinction comes in the form of the certification authorities of both masks. While N95 follows the U.S. certification standards for FFRs, KN95 follows the Chinese certification standards. With that, the actual functions and mechanisms of both masks remain similar. They filter the same type of pollutants through their filter material and offer the same level of protection to the wearer.
Typically, N95 and KN95 masks also use different mechanisms to wear these masks. N95 respirators utilize two bands attached to the mask and wrap around the top and lower part of the back of the wearer’s head. Whereas KN95 FFRs either use the same design or an ear loop structure. But both masks use professionally-fit designs to provide a complete seal against the face.
What Advantage Do They Hold Over Other Masks?
As outlined by the FDA, KN95 masks are a direct substitute for N95. But they stand a class apart when compared to other masks such as surgical masks or cloth masks.
While surgical masks and cloth face coverings can absorb the respiratory droplets of the wearer to some extent, they do not protect them from inhaling the respiratory droplets from nearby people.
On the other hand, FFRs such as KN95 actively filter the air before you breathe it in. Even if you are surrounded by airborne droplets in a COVID-19 treatment room, your KN95 respirator can deliver the required level of protection by blocking most of the dangerous particles. When you cover the mucous membranes in your mouth, nose, and eyes through a KN95 mask and safety goggles, it helps you remain protected in high-risk environments.
Another advantage is the accessibility of these masks. When you reach out to a credible vendor, you can find these KN95 respirators in large quantities and at an affordable price. This makes sure that you or your healthcare facility can obtain multiple FFRs without breaking the bank. This adds to their popularity and their overall ability of protecting against COVID-19.
Where Can You Purchase Them?
KN95 masks are available through a variety of platforms. But their most popular selling mechanism during COVID-19 comes in the form of online stores. With specialized vendors being available at the click of a button, you can easily order your required quantity of these KN95 masks right from your computer or even your mobile screen.
These masks are also available in pharmacies as well as hardware stores. However, these vendors can often run short of supply in these physical locations. That’s why ordering your KN95 online remains the most advantageous way to acquire these masks for yourself or your organization.