The novel coronavirus has made most of us more knowledgeable about face masks. The most common types are blue surgical masks. However, there has also been an increase in the demand for medical-grade face masks such as KN95, N95, and FFP2 masks.
But what’s the difference between these three types of face masks? That’s what we are going to look at in this handy guide. The information below will demystify some of the myths surrounding these types of masks.
More Similar than Different
It is crucial to start by mentioning that all three masks are almost the same. In fact, there are treated as equivalent to each other. No one should confuse you that either of the three masks is superior to the other. However, it is important that you are buying from reputable brands so make sure when purchasing from your local pharmacy you are getting a genuine product. Below are some of the minor differences between them:
The major difference between KN95, N95, and FFP2 masks is the standards. The three masks, though similar, have different rating standards based on the region of origin. The N95 respirator masks are rated using US standards. For the KN95 masks, they are rated using Chinese standards. Lastly, the FFP2 medical-grade masks have filter standards certified by the European Union. However, all these standards are almost the same. This is what makes these masks similar in terms of quality.
Pressure Drop While Breathing (N95 vs. KN95 & FFP2)
Another difference between KN95, N95, and FFP2 masks is pressure drop while inhaling and exhaling. Unlike KN95 and FFP2, the N95 masks have slightly stricter requirements on this element. So, American standards require the masks to be more breathable. That’s why you find a slight difference when breathing using the N95. They have better breathability than the other two.
Another difference most people may not have identified is the holding loops. If you take a look at KN95 masks, you will notice that they are held over the ears by elastic loops. This is not the same with the N95 and FFP2 masks, which have the elastic loop over the head. So, when it comes to keeping the mask firmly on the face, then the KN95 variety may not provide the perfect fit. However, these masks have a tightening method in case they do get loose.
Filter Performance (FFP2 vs. N95 & KN95)
Last but not least a difference between these masks is the filter performance. This is the measure of the aerosols that can pass through the mask filter. Note that most airborne viruses and bacteria use aerosols as the medium of transfer. You might have noticed that FFP2 masks are rated with a lower filter performance. These masks are rated to filter 94% of micro particulates while the other two masks are rated to 95%. When in high-risk environments, N95 or KN95 masks may be safer to use, but only very marginally.