What is the difference between N95 and KN95 Masks?
With such similar sounding names, it can be confusing to understand the difference between N95 and KN95 masks. What are KN95 masks, and are they the same as N95 masks? This handy chart explains the differences between N95 and KN95 masks (and all characteristics that are the same).
N95 masks are the US standards for respirator masks; KN95 masks are the Chinese standards for masks.
N95 vs. KN95 Comparison Chart
|Certification Standard||N95 (NIOSH-42C FR84)||KN95 (GB2626-2006)|
|Filtration performance||≥ 95%||≥ 95%|
|Flow rate||85L / min||85L / min|
|Total inward leakage tested on human subjects each performing exercises||N/A||≤ 8% leakage|
|Inhalation resistance – max pressure drop||≤ 343 Pa||≤ 350 Pa|
|Exhalation resistance – max pressure drop||≤ 245 Pa||≤ 250 Pa|
|Exhalation value leakage requirement||Leak rate ≤ 30mL / min||Depressurization n to 0 Pa ≥ 20 / sec|
|Force applied||-245 Pa||-1180 Pa|
|CO2 clearance requirement||N/A||≤ 1%|
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% of tiny particles (0.3 micron particles, to be exact).
Since N95 and KN95 masks are rated to capture 95% of 0.3 micron particles, people will often assume that masks can’t capture particles smaller than 0.3 microns. If that was true, then it wouldn’t make sense that masks do a really good job of preventing virus transmission. It is because the multilayers designed mask made the filtration better.
Both ratings require masks to be tested for filtration efficiency at capturing salt particles (NaCl). Both are tested at a flow rate of 85 L/minute.
Most of these differences are small and would be uninteresting to the average mask user. However, here are the key differences:
- To be certified as a KN95 mask, the Chinese government requires the manufacturer to run a special mask fit test on real humans with ≤ 8% leakage. The N95 mask standard does not require manufacturers to run fit tests.
This does not mean that fit tests aren’t helpful. Many hospitals and companies require their workers to be fit-tested. However, those are requirements of companies themselves, not for the US NIOSH certification on the mask.
- N95 masks have slightly stricter requirements for pressure drop while inhaling. That means they’re required to be slightly more breathable than KN95 masks.
Don’t worry; despite it sometimes feeling difficult to breathe through masks, dying from oxygen starvation is very unlikely when wearing a mask.
- N95s also have slightly stricter requirements for pressure drop while exhaling, which should help with breathability.
The bottom line is N95s and KN95s are both rated to capture 95% of particles. Among the minor differences, only KN95 masks are required to pass fit tests, while N95 masks have slightly stronger breathability standards.