Difference between KN95, N95 masks and how to avoid mask scamsJanuary 15, 2022
As interest in KN95 masks rises, prices on some brands are going up. KING 5 spoke with medical and consumer experts about what the public should keep in mind.
SEATTLE — With high rates of omicron transmission, some doctors are recommending that people switch to higher-grade masks.
That also means navigating how masks are different, which masks to choose, and how to find masks that work effectively but are still affordable.
“We’re trying to get people away from a simple cloth mask or these bandanas that we see,” said Dr. Francis Riedo, EvergreenHealth Medical director of infection control and prevention. “They’re just not extremely effective, both for preventing transmission or preventing you from getting infected. A multiple-layer cloth mask is a little better, but really you should move up to the next level, whether it’s a surgical or procedural mask, or if you can find it, a KN95, or ideally or optimally a fit-tested N95. That’s a procedure mostly limited to health care workers, but if you’re in a situation that you can accomplish that, that’s what you should do.”
What’s the difference between cloth, KN95 and N95 masks?
Riedo described the differences in types of masks that impact how they work and what they’re able to filter out.
“The masking really refers to how many particles are filtered out,” Riedo said. “You start at the very lowest end, which is the simple layer of cloth, which will filter out some particles, whether it’s smoke or virus, but it’s really very limited. If you get into multiple layers of a cloth mask you have a little more filtration, but it’s not until you really get to surgical level masks that you derive some benefit. It’s both a mechanical filtration as well as an electrostatic component to it that helps.
“And as you move up the chain, things become more and more effective at filtering out because of closer, smaller openings for particles to get through, charges and so forth. You get into KN95s, which is a type of N95 that’s approved in China by their standards, to N95s, which are approved by United States standards, which is sort of the upper-end, and then you get into full face masks.”
RELATED: Yes, you can clean and reuse your KN95 or N95 mask using a brown paper bag
How can I tell if my KN95 or N95 mask is legit?
As more people seek to buy KN95 and N95 masks, it’s important to take the time to ensure one is buying from a reputable seller.
“There are a lot of funny websites out there with fake contact information, with fake claims, and a lot of time…