KN95 Mask: 12 Things You Need to Know Before Buying (Recall List Inside) - Masks For Heros

KN95 Mask: 12 Things You Need to Know Before Buying (Recall List Inside)

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As the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is nowhere in sight, the demand for protective masks is on the rise.

Especially now when the WHO presented preventive measure guidelines with masks being a necessity, people are looking for the best mask options. A mask shouldn’t only be able to protect you from all the pollutant particles, bacteria, and viruses, but it also needs to be well-made and well-fitting to enhance its protective efficiency.

One such type of mask is the KN95; a filtering respirator face mask that is currently used as a preventive measure for the pandemic.

But, for our readers to know everything about the mask they’re wearing, or will wear, we’ve decided to tackle some of the most frequently asked questions and doubts about the KN95 mask. So, let’s get started!

KN95 Mask: Quick Summary

  • KN95 – stands for the regulatory standard for filtering facepiece respirators that are certified in China.
  • KN95 respiratory masks – masks that are regulated by the Chinese government under regulations GB2626-2006, GB262-2019, and GB19083-2010.
  • KN95 masks provide 95% protection against all particles that are greater than 0.3 µm in diameter (bacteria, viruses, pollution particles, fine particles, dust, smog, pollen, etc.)
  • KN95 masks have a 3D foldable design, earloops, nose bridge/nosepiece, and provide excellent fitting and sealing.
  • KN95 masks feature 5-layer protection, and are skin-friendly (don’t cause rash and skin irritation).
  • Currently approved by the WHO as a safety measure from COVID-19; used by health care providers, patients, and citizens.
  • Currently advised by the WHO for extended use and reuse.
  • You can get them from Well Before (Formerly Honest PPE Supply) , Powecom(from bonafidemasks.com or Amazon), n95medicalsupplies.com,
  • You can get Kids KN95 from Well Before.
  • Kn95 Recall list, you can get it from here.

1. What Does KN95 Mean?

KN95 stands for the regulatory standard for filtering facepiece respirators that are certified in China. The regulatory standard refers to a design that ensures filtration efficiency, tight seal with the face as well as minimum leakage.

The certification is applied in terms of use against non-oily particulates, as well as the current use against the COVID-19.

It is important to mention that the requirements for a KN95 certification are almost the same as the requirements fo the US N95 filtering facepiece respirators.

That is why both KN95 and N95 provide the same levels of protection, according to international standards and certifications.

2. What Is A KN95 Mask?

What Is A KN95 Mask
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KN95 respiratory masks are masks that are regulated by the Chinese government under regulations GB2626-2006, GB262-2019, and GB19083-2010. These masks have become generally available to larger masses in April 2020, to help the Chinese people, as well as other countries, fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The KN95 filtering facepiece respirators are also used by healthcare professionals, since the masks were approved by the FDA, according to the FDA guidelines and international standards.

When it comes to the KN95 mask itself, it is designed to fit tightly around the face, due to its ability to create an airtight seal. This mask features an earloop as a form of wearing, which is different from other types of masks that use head strap attachments that either go behind the ears or behind the neck.

When it comes to public opinion, many seem to favor the KN95 mask design, as the mask can be put on fast and easy, and it also fits very well from the nose to the chin area (to prevent particles from entering nose and mouth).

3. What Does A KN95 Mask Protect You From?

The KN95 mask is supposed to provide effective respiratory protection against all sorts of particles, including bacteria and viruses.

The KN95 masks are also supposed to provide 95% protection against all particles that are greater than 0.3 µm in diameter.

This means that the mask is supposed to protect you from bacteria, viruses, pollution particles, fine particles, dust, smog, pollen, and reduce the risk of bacteria and viral infections.

4. What Are KN95 Masks Made From?

kn95 mask 5 layers
Image Source: Masks For Heroes

The KN95 masks are multi-layer masks, that usually feature 5-layer protection. The layers are made from high-quality, nonwoven fabric, hot air cotton, and melt-blown fabric.

The nonwoven fabric is hydrophobic, and is water- and droplet-proof. Moreover, the hot air cotton is soft and ensures lower air velocity. Further layers ensure particle filtration and hypoallergenic materials, that are skin-friendly.

Such a layered fabric construction contributes to the mask’s particle filtering efficiency and a generally better design. Speaking of design, the KN95 mask has a 3D foldable design, as well as an adjustable nose bridge clip to fit the face better and firmer.

Unlike other masks, the KN95 mask features an elastic earloop as well, which further ensures tight and firm fitting to the face, from nose to chin area.

Note: Some KN95 masks have 4 instead of 5 layers. However, these 4-layered masks are generally cheaper, and not recommended for use against COVID-19. The WHO and CDC recommend respiratory masks with 5 layers only.

5. How Long Can You Use A KN95 Mask?

Both the US N95 and Chinese KN95 masks are manufactured and designed for one-time use (disposable design).

This means that each new use would require a new mask. However, because of the shortage of the N95 and KN95 masks, the CDC has recommended reusing of the disposable filtering facepiece respirators as a crisis capacity strategy.

The strategies for the extended use of masks like N95 or KN95 are available at The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

According to NIOSH, masks like N95 and KN95 can be reused (only if properly stored between uses and only if used by one and same individual), and used for an extended period of time (meaning that an individual wears the same mask for a continuous period of time in one day, after which the mask should be disposed of due to repeated exposure and close contact).

6. Is KN95 Mask Efficient?

Efficient of KN95 and N95 mask
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KN95 masks are created to have at least 95% filtration efficiency, which makes them just as good as the N95 masks (97% filtration efficiency) and better than surgical masks (95% filtration efficiency) and PM 2.5 filter masks (approximately 60% filtration efficiency).

Generally, these masks are considered very effective against airborne particles, viruses, and bacteria, as their efficiency was tested and proven through international regulations and regulatory standards of FDA, CDC, etc.

However, studies have shown that the filtration efficiency of KN95 masks, for example, drops after sterilization or extended use. The filtration efficiency can drop even 50% post-sterilization.

The reason for that lies in the fact that filtering facepiece respirators are made to be used one time and then be disposed of.

That is why caution should be exercised when reusing or sterilizing respiratory masks.

Moreover, further studies are expected to be conducted when it comes to overall filtration efficiency against infectious agents and filtration limitations of masks like N95 or KN95.

That is why the CDC only recommends extended use if the mask maintains its fit and function and is properly stored between the use (if it’s being reused).

7. Does WHO Recommend KN95 Masks Against COVID-19?

The WHO has provided guidance and available evidence when it comes to the use of respiratory masks like KN95 as a protective measure against COVID-19.

So far, what they know is that these masks should be effective against virus transmission and for protection against infection.

These masks are being used by health care providers and because it is believed that they protect from at least 95% of all particles, bacteria, and viruses, their use will be continued.

However, the WHO states and emphasizes that there are currently NOT ENOUGH studies to evaluate the effectiveness of respiratory masks like N95 or KN95 against Coronavirus in particular. However, they do advise these masks should be worn as a part of the protective measure strategy in regards to infection transmission and the prevention of virus transmission among health care providers, patients, and citizens.

8. How To Handle KN95 Masks?

According to the Crisis Standards of Care by CDC, decontamination recommendations in regards to handling a decontaminated mask are as follows;

  • Before and after touching or adjusting of the respiratory mask, you should clean your hands with soap and water, o ran alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching the inside of the mask.
  • When touching and adjusting the mask, make sure to use a pair of clean (non-sterile) gloves.
  • Always visually inspect the respiratory mask to see whether its composition and fitting have been compromised.
  • Always make sure to check whether the mask components like nose bridge, straps, and nose foam material did not degrade (which can compromise the mask efficiency, quality of the fit, and seal).
  • Always make sure to discard a used respiratory mask properly and never leave it exposed, where other people can touch it or use it.

9. How To Spot A Counterfeit KN95 Mask?

Not all KN95 masks and brands available on the market are authentic, and due to the shortage of the masks, there are many counterfeit KN95 mask brands. Some of the signs that a respiratory mask is counterfeit are the following;

  • There are no markings on the filtering facepiece respirator mask whatsoever,
  • There are no NIOSH-approved filtering facepiece respirator designations (like N95, N99, N100, R95, R99, R100, P95, P99, P100).
  • NIOSH is spelled incorrectly on the box or packaging,
  • There is an FDA logo on the box or packaging of the mask; FDA does NOT approve the use of the administration label on any respirator packaging,
  • Presence of decorative fabric or other decorative add-ons (e.g. sequins),
  • There are claims that the mask is approved for children (NIOSH does NOT approve any of the respiratory protection for children),
  • There are straps for ears instead of earloops for KN95 masks

Here are some further tips on how you can test KN95 mask to see if it’s fake;

  1. Flammability – if a mask is KN95 certified, when exposed to a flame it should melt but not ignite. Counterfeit KN95 masks are made from cheap materials and will ignite when in contact with a flame.
  2. Permeability – if a mask is KN95 certified, it should limit the airflow going in and out of the mask. You can test this by trying to blow out a candle or a flame of a lighter by blowing through the mask. With a KN95 rated mask, you shouldn’t be able to blow out the flame no matter how hard you blow.
  3. Liquid resistance – if a mask is KN95 certified, it will have a waterproof layer that will prevent the passage of fluid. You can test this by pouring some water into the mask. A certified KN95 mask will contain all the water with no leakage, while a counterfeit mask will allow the water to flow through the mask.

10. Any Certified KN95 Mask For Sale Online?

Here are KN95 mask sellers and resellers that are approved by the FDA registration, business licenses, and relevant certification

  • Well Before (Formerly Honest PPE Supply) – Sell KN95, Surgical Masks, Reusable Face Masks as well as other PPE at affordable prices.
  • SAMTONEKN95 masks, 20 PCS per pack, great deal after using a coupon (Pls note that they are of 4-layer design).
  • Leche – Sell authentic, FDA registered KN95 masks, surgical, disposable as well as reusable Fashion Dust masks.
  • DMB Supply – Sell authentic FDA registered N95 and KN95 masks; N95 masks are made in the USA, while the KN95 masks are made in China.

11. Should I Buy A KN95 Mask With A Valve?

According to the latest CDC updates, you should stay away from KN95 masks that feature an exhalation valve. The reason for this lies in the fact that one-way valve masks allow air to be exhaled through a hole in the mask material.

This results in exhaled respiratory droplets possibly reaching others. In cases of infected people wearing such masks, there can be a potential danger for people in their immediate environment, especially those not wearing a mask themselves. The CDC recommends we wear simple facial masks that don’t feature a valve or vent.

12. How Do I Get A Proper Fit With A KN95 Mask?

How Do I Get A Proper Fit With A KN95 Mask?
Image Source: Masks For Heroes

To put the KN95 mask properly, make sure to do as follows;

  • You should wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizer before putting the mask.
  • Hold the earloop mask and nosepiece facing up and place the mask under your chin.
  • Stretch the earloops over each ear.
  • Position and adjust the mask on your nose by using both of your hands. You should mold the nosepiece to the shape of your nose and push downwards on both sides of the nosepiece.
  • Always perform a fit and seal check by placing both hands over the mask. Make sure not to move or disturb the position of the mask. You can test whether the mask fits properly by exhaling; if there is air leakage, then make sure to adjust the mask again, especially the nosepiece.

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30 thoughts on “KN95 Mask: 12 Things You Need to Know Before Buying (Recall List Inside)”

    • Currently, FDA registration and clearance, alongside the CDC guidelines are the only reliable sources of information regarding the masks used in the USA. It is important to emphasize that we are not promoting these masks or any particular brand/manufacturer. We have simply gathered the currently available information about these masks, provided by the WHO, FDA, and CDC, and according to all of them, KN95 masks are currently an excellent preventive measure against COVID-19.

      Regarding the link that you’ve provided; first of all, thank you for the information, we’ve definitely taken it into consideration. The official efficiency rate of KN95 masks is 95%. It is important to mention that in the provided document, it is stated that the assessment is not a part of the NIOSH respirator approval process. Also, not every KN95 mask will provide the same percentage of protection, that is why the filter performance is always seen as ‘more or less’ than 95%. However, if the FDA, CDC, and the WHO present the assessment information as official and applicable to all KN95 masks, we’ll make sure to update the article as well.

      Reply
    • Hi. I wonder if you know the answer to this: I bumped into some websites that say pleated cloth masks ought to have the pleated folds open downwards. It doesn’t amplify why, and very frustratingly it doesn’t specify whether they mean the folds should be downward on the outside (which kind of makes intuitive sense??), or if the pleats should open downwards on the inside (what you see when you’re putting on the mask). Do you have any idea about this? And how important it is? I bought some nice pleated masks from a local tailor, and while most of the masks look the same on both sides a few of them have the nice design on one side and a plain dull solid color on the other. One even has a different texture on each side. Each of these masks has the pleats facing *upward* on the outside (nice design side), if you align the nosepiece on the nose and not the chin. How important is it to have the pleats facing downward? These websites seem to be parroting some factoid someone saw somewhere, without explaining or specifying even WHICH SIDE should have the folds open downward.

      I thought of seeing if the tailor would be willing to resew the nosepiece to the bottom (chin side) for a small fee (which would leave one of the masks with the cartoon ladies upside down! Obviously a trivial point, but still). Is it really better to have the pleats open downwards on the outside? Or do I have it backwards and they meant pleats downward on the *inside* in the first place? I can’t get an answer for this, I’ve asked some doctors tweeting about masks on Twitter, no reply. Do you know of a resource who might have the answer, even if you don’t? Thank you so much.

      I came to this page BTW in search of whether it’d be worth my spending $20 for a bunch of PM 2.5 filters to insert into my newly bought inexpensive cloth masks which have an opening for filters. It sounds like while untested it still adds a little layer and may reduce the probability of one getting infected when wearing a mere cloth mask, even if it’s just a slight Improvement. I tend to wear KN95 on the el but the cloth masks at work with everyone masked (pretty much, anyway; some momentary removals, which irk me) and social distanced. A little easier breathing for a few hours vs. KN95.

      Also wondering if the KN95, which I tend to set aside for a few days between wearings— I have a few so I rotate ’em— lose their efficacy with time or even with wearing due to electrostatic charge being part of their protection. I don’t wear them for 8 hours each outing or anything but, still.

      Thank you so much. I hope you can answer my question(s) or refer me to someone who can. Thanks!

      Reply
    • KN95 masks are Chinese-made masks that are the same as the American N95 ones. KN95 masks are regulated by the Chinese government and the American government as well as federal agencies usually do not have the information who exactly in China manufactured all of the imported KN95 masks. Therefore, the FDA has issued an emergency use authorization for some Chinese-made masks, and many of the masks still wait for an FDA authorization.

      So, to answer your question; we cannot exactly say where every KN95 mask is made, as well as all of the mask parts. That is a rather complicated topic to be currently tackled. However, if the FDA or CDC do come up with a concrete explanation about the exact origin of the KN95 masks, we would be first to let you know. But, since you’re curious about the origin of the masks you use, feel free to check the FDA database for Establishment Registration and Device Listing. There, you can type in the brand or company where you bought your mask, and see if they’re FDA regulated and if they have an official, cleared provider/manufacturer.

      Reply
  1. I am staying at home 99% of the time. Occasionally I go out for an hour or two to do errands wearing a KN95 mask. I practice social distancing of 10 feet or more. When I come home, I store the mask in the bag it came in. Only I wear the mask. How many hours can I wear the mask before I need to dispose of it and can I tell by looking at the mask that it is no longer working to keep out Covid-19?

    Reply
    • As mentioned in the article, masks like N95 and KN95 can be reused (only if properly stored between uses and only if used by one and same individual), and used for an extended period of time (meaning that an individual wears the same mask for a continuous period of time in one day, after which the mask should be disposed of due to repeated exposure and close contact). This means that you can wear your KN95 mask for how much you need in one day. However, some people do extend their use of this mask to several days, but they store it properly and keep it out of touch when they’re not wearing it.

      If you live in an area where masks are generally hard to get or buy, feel free to use your KN95 mask for more than one day, but make sure to store it properly, wash your hands after you touch it/use it and keep it away from others.

      Your KN95 mask isn’t functional if there is visible damage to the mask, if there are holes in it or if it has become loose around the nose and chin area.

      Reply
    • Please refer readers towards Appendix A of the FDA’S Emergency Use Authorization ‘approved’ masks. It is imperative that people not waste their money or health on defective and/or fraudulent devices. As the previous reader stated, some ‘KN95’ masks (even with ‘appropriate’ labeling or features as you’ve described) have absolutely abhorrent filtering results. This certainly has been addressed by the FDA and MIT.. Here is the FDA EUA page. These ratings in many cases are critical!
      https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-emergency-use-authorizations-medical-devices/personal-protective-equipment-euas

      Reply
      • I have found the Dongguan Arun KN95 the best KN95 among the FDA EUA list. It was CDC tested and it showed a maximum of 100% PFE. I have been wearing it because of the smoke in California, and it has been performing great.

        Reply
  2. Thank you for this article. I was shopping for a KN95 mask and encountered the word Pm2.5. Thank you I know now that what I was about to buy is fake.

    Reply
  3. Excellent information, thank you. I purchased my masks from N95 Medical Supplies and the masks are CDC tested with a link to the test on their product page but I’ll post it here: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/respirators/testing/results/MTT-2020-266.1_International_DongguanHuaGang_KN95-A_TestReport_Redacted-508.pdf

    The shipping was very fast and both times I live chatted they are incredibly responsive. I must say that versus buying on sites like ebay or Amazon where you don’t know what quality you’re actually getting and buying from very randomized sellers where it feels like luck of the draw and not to mention the personalized instant customer service, this was refreshing! I’m a customer for sure and will be back for more, 5 stars from me.

    Reply
  4. Thank you Terry! I purchased some KN95 masks that were advertised on SIRIUS XM. They passed all of the tests you listed above. Although they are 4 layers, they say they are 95 percent effective. This seems incorrect based on your reporting but I assume better than 60 percent with cloth mask.

    Reply
  5. I bought some Rockbros brand KN95 washable masks with removable filters online–from FastTech, which is a company in China. I believe they are counterfeit, as follows:
    They were not factory sealed in packaging that identified them as Rockbros or as KN95 masks. Instead, they were shipped in non-sealed Rockbros ziplock pouches. As such, they weren’t even sterile.
    There are absolutely no labels or markings on any of the masks or their filters to identify them as Rockbros brand OR as KN95.
    I’ve asked for a refund about 4 times now, and they keep trying to buy me off with increasing amounts of store credit and ‘assuring me’ that these are genuine Rockbros KN95 masks, and offering to send me ‘test data’ showing this as well. As if their word and some words on a page can guarantee that what I have in my hand is the real thing.
    I want to dispute the charge with my credit card company, but I need to show them that these masks are counterfeit. Are the ‘red flags’ I’ve listed above sufficient proof? Thanks so much for this article!

    Reply
  6. Hi, Thanks to your article I found KN95 brand Eimo that are on the FDA EUA approved list, with over 99% filtering efficiency, I got the mask after a few days from ordering, I had other masks that I bought from somewhere else and I had problems breathing with, these masks are much better and cover my face well.

    Reply
  7. Hello,
    Do you have a link for info that indicates 4-layered KN95 masks are not recommended for use against COVID-19? I purchased several bags of KN95 masks with 4 layers and so I’m interested in confirming. I did a search online but wasn’t able to find anything. Thank you

    Reply
  8. Thank you Terry!!
    This was the most comprehensive, helpful and scientific article I have read to date on KN95 masks. Thank you so much for taking the time to write and share this article. So thankful to have found the article.

    Reply
  9. Are the Powecom KN95 masks 4 layer or 5 layer? I see it referred to as ‘multi layer’ but there are different claims as to how many layers. Thank you.

    Reply
    • According to our sources and available information, the Powecom KN95 masks are designed to have 5 layers, which makes them highly resistant to fluids, splashes, and oils. These masks are FDA authorized and NIOSH tested, and you can get them at Patient Aid as low as $29.00.

      Reply
  10. Does OSHA require the KN95 be fit tested and a medical analysis of the wearer and documented training before the employee can use the KN95 which is requireed with an N95?

    Reply
    • Unfortunately, we have outdated information regarding this inquiry. But, according to the information OSHA provided in May this year, OSHA does indeed require a medical evaluation before any employee can wear a respirator mask, like KN95 or N95 masks.

      Here you can check the Medical Clearance Questionnaire in regards to N95 masks https://oshareview.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/cal-osha-5199-medical-clearance-form.pdf

      Depending on the results of this questionnaire, the licensed healthcare provider will either clear the employee for KN95/N95 to use with no restrictions or refer the employee to a follow-up, in-person medical evaluation. If an in-person evaluation is indicated, then the employee is cleared for respirator use with no restrictions, cleared with restrictions, or is not cleared for any respirator usage.

      Reply
    • According to the FDA database for medical device companies and establishments, Perfect Medics is a registered provider of medical devices in the USA and Canada. This means that they provide proper medical protection equipment, including face masks like the KN95 masks in your inquiry. So, we believe that the KN95 mask is legit, judging by the photos of the mask and by the FDA database.

      Here you can check the database for yourself;
      https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfRL/rl.cfm

      Reply

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