KN95 masks and surgical masks are the two most effective and safe personal protective equipment that is designed to protect against airborne particles, viral and bacterial contaminants. These are suitable for medical professionals, front-line workers, and even for individuals who are concerned about being safe in risky areas and environments.
With the global spread of coronavirus, there has been a significant rise in the demand and popularity of both KN95 respirators and surgical masks to prevent transmission.
We all know that these two masks are highly recommended gear to reduce contamination risk factors. KN95 masks come with 95% filtering efficiency while a surgical mask is a loose-fitting disposable gear.
Both of them protect the wearer’s nose and mouth against close contact with droplets, splashes, and sprays that may contain the infection. If such is the case, are these masks same? Well, this answer is no. While they have some similar functions, there are several dissimilarities between the two. Let’s find them out!
What are KN95 Masks?
The KN95 face mask is very useful to capture 95% of small particles (approx. 0.3 microns) and is China standard-based GB 2626-2006, but due to high demand, they are approved by the US government for usage. KN95 respirator is basically designed with 4 protective layers, including surface layer, inner layer, particle layer, and fabric layer, equipped with skin-friendly fabric and breathable material to ensure optimum filtering process. It works effectively for preventing bio-aerosols, PM2.5 particulates, and other contaminants.
The general public can keep KN95 masks in stock but it is advised not to keep more than they need. Ensure to leave these gear for our healthcare heroes and front-line workers who put their lives at risk to treat the affected ones.
What are Surgical Masks?
A surgical mask or medical mask is a loose-fitted disposable mask that is used to create a physical barrier between the nose and mouth to prevent potential contamination risk. These are regulated under 21 CFR 878.4040. These are designed with a different thickness and ability to prevent contact with liquids. If worn properly, this can help to halt large-particle droplets, sprays, and splashes that may contain viruses and bacteria.
How KN95 Mask Differs from Surgical Mask?
If we talk about their similarities, both are designed to prevent bacterial and viral contaminants. As there are various different types of masks available in the market these days, most people may get confused about the difference between the two. Here are the following details:
- KN95 masks are Chinese standard-based while surgical masks are cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- KN95 mask reduces exposure to particles such as small particle aerosols and large droplets whereas surgical mask works as a fluid-resistant against droplets, splashes, or hazardous fluids.
- KN95 mask is a tight-fitting mask while surgical masks are loose-fitting.
- KN95 respirator filters out 95% of airborne particles while surgical masks don’t offer a reliable level of protection against inhaling smaller airborne particles.
Surgical mask and KN95 respirator also vary in design, functions, and specifications. A surgical mask is a better choice to cover your nose, mouth, and chin from sprays, splashes, and large particle droplets. However, if you want to capture 95% of airborne particles and a tight-fit, wearing face mask KN95 could be a great option.
What is the Difference Between the Fit of KN95 Mask and Surgical Mask?
A surgical mask has a loose fit and is a disposable gear that can be effective in preventing splashes and large-particle droplets. But it doesn’t filter out smaller particles in the air that may be transmitted by sneezes, coughs, or potential medical procedures. Because of its loose fit between the face and surface of the face mask, it doesn’t offer complete protection against germs and other harmful contaminants.
On the other hand, KN95 respirator is designed to achieve a quite close facial fit and proved to be very effective in capturing 95 percent of airborne particles. These are tested for fluid resistance, particulate and bacterial filtration efficiency, and biocompatibility.
How to Wear and Remove Face Mask?
A face mask should be worn in public settings where social distancing measure is daunting to follow. It is effective in medical procedures where there is a high risk of infection and illness. Here are some pointers for putting on and removing a mask:
- Clean your hands properly with soap and water or hand sanitizer before using a mask.
- Place a mask over your nose and mouth.
- Place the straps behind your ears and be sure it covers mouth and nose properly with no gaps left.
- Avoid touching your mask frequently.
- Before removing, sanitize your hands.
- Take off the mask by lifting the ear loops without touching the front of the mask or face.
- Discard your mask immediately in a closed bin, when it is damaged or just for one-time use.
The CDC recommends wearing any face coverings such as KN95 respirator, surgical mask, etc. in public areas where social distancing is hard to maintain. In the current coronavirus crisis, it is essential to wear a mask along with taking preventive measures such as regular hand washing and practicing social distancing to prevent viral and bacterial contamination risks.