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What Is the Difference Between KN95 Face Masks & N95 Face Masks?

You know you need to wear a face mask to protect yourself and others, but how do you know what type protects you best? You may have heard that N95 and KN95 face masks are particularly effective but what does the term N95 mask mean? What does KN95 face mask mean? How do you know which one might best meet your needs? 

The following are some of the most common questions consumers ask about N95 vs KN95 masks. Familiarizing yourself with these common questions and answers should help you make an informed decision about which type to use.  

What Is an N95 Mask?

Among the most widely used types of personal protective equipment, N95 respirator masks undergo widespread use among health care, construction and emergency response workers, among others. When it comes to mask names, the letter tells you how resistant the mask is to oils, while the number tells you the percentage of particles it filters out that are 0.3 microns or larger in diameter. So, in the case of N95 masks, the “N” means “not resistant to oil,” while the “95” indicates that the mask filters out 95% of very small particles.

N95 masks have the approval of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH, which is the governing body responsible for issuing recommendations that seek to prevent work-related illnesses and injuries. NIOSH tests and certifies these masks to ensure they are safe and effective for use. On March 24, 2020, the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to allow the use of filtering facepiece respirators from specific countries where the devices are evaluated using methods similar to those used by NIOSH and are expected to provide adequate protection for healthcare personnel. Thus, some N95 masks in the U.S. may not have the NIOSH approval but meet similar standards.

What Is a KN95 Mask?

KN95 masks are almost identical to N95 masks in terms of efficacy. However, the Chinese, rather than the U.S., government regulates them. Because they are so similar in terms of performance, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency order in April that allows for their use domestically.


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According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, KN95 masks that meet China’s GB2626-2006 or GB 2626-2019 standards are suitable replacements for N95 masks. They also offer better protection than surgical masks, homemade masks, bandanas, buffs and scarves.

What Are the Differences Between N95 Masks and KN95 Masks?

So, in addition to having different regulatory bodies, how do N95 and KN95 masks differ from one another? The 3M chart below highlights the minor differences that exist between the two types of masks. The N95 and KN95 masks vary slightly in terms of inward leakage, inhalation resistance and exhalation resistance, among other areas, with the N95 mask having slightly higher standards it must meet in terms of breathability. So, while some users may find it a bit easier to breathe through an N95 mask, others may find the difference negligible, if noticeable at all. You may also find that KN95 masks may be more affordable than N95 masks.

The bottom line is, both the N95 and the KN95 face masks work in the same manner, and they both meet the same stringent filtration standards. Neopart Transit Masks & Personal Protective Equipment is a trusted supplier of N95 and KN95 masks for consumers, families and businesses that prevent the transmission of airborne particles while offering you reliable protection against respiratory disease. 

3M Differences Between N95 & KN95 Table

See the original 3M document for more details.