While more than 50 percent of the U.S. population are fully vaccinated, COVID-19 positive cases still haven't declined as expected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) therefore advises all staff, students, and teachers to continue to mask up regardless of vaccination status as plans for booster shots are being put into place.

Masks that are approved by the government for use in indoor settings could offer the highest possible protection by blocking particulates at the micron-level. Furthermore, these masks are widely available as N95 and KN95 masks. They differ slightly in terms of standards and regulations, but are said to offer 95 percent protection against airborne particles.

What Are N95 Masks?

N95 masks are manufactured in alignment with the U.S standards and are approved and regulated by the CDC and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

These masks comprise several layers of propylene and are said to offer 95 percent protection against airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns. Generally, N95 masks are worn around the face with the help of adjustable straps that form a protective seal around the nose and mouth.

What Are KN95 Masks?

KN95 masks are authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on emergency use authorization and follow Asia standards. These masks undergo multiple testing before they hit the stores and are said to offer 95 percent protection from particulate matter as well.

N95 Masks vs. KN95 Masks - What's the Difference?

Both N95 and KN95 masks have similar attributes like a flow rate of 85 liters per minute, but differ slightly in terms of breathability standards. A detailed fact sheet from 3M mentions that N95 masks offer slightly better breathability with less inhalation and exhalation resistance compared to KN95 masks.

KN95 masks have to pass Asia standards as well as those set by the FDA. This includes fit-tests, which reduce their chance of being faulty. Both, however, are approved for use in indoor public settings and offer maximum protection. It might help to know that they are not designed for oil-based environments, though.

Unfortunately, the chances of encountering counterfeit masks is quite high. The Department of Homeland Security seized an estimated 11 million fake N95 masks at the beginning of 2021 keeping in mind the safety of medical workers, first responders, and the general public.

Checklist for Buying N95 and KN95 Masks

The CDC outlines simple ways to make sure you are buying masks that protect you:

  • Locate the NIOSH approval number on the mask or the packaging and cross-check with the NIOSH database to verify legitimacy.
  • Check for spelling errors, altered letters, numbers, and logos as some unauthorized manufacturers might tamper with these details to pass compliance.
  • Avoid buying masks that are being sold loose, and make sure to check that their packaging is standard and contains user instructions.
  • Don't fall for fashionable and colorful masks too quickly. Fabrics like sequin or any modifications to the original mask could affect performance and render the NIOSH-approval void.

Get Authentic Masks Shipped Within 48 Hours

We came across an online platform called WellBefore that goes the extra mile. They arrange third-party lab tests to ensure the authenticity and quality of the branded N95 and KN95 masks that they offer.

The e-commerce platform for personal protective equipment (PPE) hosts an array of affordable masks, face shields, and gloves and gowns among other gear with discounts on bulk purchases and doorstep delivery within 48 hours. Their website also displays NIOSH listing details, manufacturer details, and lab test results.

With seamless customer support and transparency, WellBefore has a 4.8 rating from 12,000 product reviews and over 200,000 happy customers.

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