Amongst the things Coronavirus has made us aware of, the quality of face masks that one must use during these stressing times is definitely on the top. A little less than a year ago, most of us were not even aware what KN-95, N-95, FFRs or even PPEs for that matter stood for. But these have now become commonplace terms in our daily personal and professional conversations. While the government and industries continue efforts to increase the wholesale production, supply and distribution of protective garments and face masks, here are a few pointers to bear in mind when out PPE shopping.
What are KN-95 masks?
By definition, KN95 is an Industry Standard which means that the mask efficiently filters 95% of particles with a mass median diameter of 0.3 micrometres. According to mask manufacturers, the Chinese KN-95 masks can be considered effectively ‘equivalent’ to the US ‘N-95’ standards and the European ‘FFP2’ standards. These international standards are broadly based on physical properties and performance characteristics like Filter Performance, Inhalation Resistance, Exhalation Resistance, Flow Rates, CO2 Clearance etc.
Key Quality Metrics of KN-95 masks
Filtration Efficiency: Disposable respirators are subject to various regulatory standards around the world. During pandemic or emergency situations, health authorities often reference these standards when making respirator recommendations that certain populations should use. KN-95 masks or its equivalent require to be tested for filtration efficiency at capturing salt particles (NaCl) at a flow rate of 85 L/minute. This is considered to be one of the most important tests for capturing the masks’ performance efficiency.
Facial Comfort: Another equally important factor to be noted while purchasing KN-95 masks on wholesale is the degree of facial comfort that it offers to its users. The key is to go for strong but lightweight materials that are more breathable. The use of elastic fabric makes for better fitting and thus offering less discomfort while stepping out to perform your daily chores. The Chinese government requires manufacturers to run mask fit tests on human beings with ≤ 8% leakage to be certified KN-95. These are especially helpful where many hospitals and companies mandate their employees to be fit-tested. The wash-ability and reusability of the fabric is also a good measure of quality when it comes to selecting the right kind of masks.
Pressure Drop: All standards of masks require manufacturers to meet Pressure Drop requirements while inhaling and exhaling. While these differ only slightly depending on the countries and their specific climatic conditions, the goal is to ensure overall breathability of the masks. It is interesting to note that N-95 masks have stricter pressure drop requirements when compared to KN-95 masks, although both offer the same level of protection and filtration.