How Do N95 and KN95 Masks Compare? | Ask WeShield

Choosing the Right Mask for You

The uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic has put many business owners in a challenging position. Staff members are looking to their managers for guidance and procurement is left dealing with the difficult task of navigating the world of personal protective equipment. One question our knowledgeable sales staff regularly fields: how do N95 and KN95 masks compare?

The similarities: both N95 masks and KN95 masks are worn over the mouth and nose. They are made from multiple layers of polypropylene plastic polymer or another synthetic material. When worn correctly, both KN95 and N95 masks will filter 95% of tiny 0.3-μm particles in the air, per certification guidelines. Overall, both mask styles are highly regarded by industry experts and healthcare professionals alike and received top marks in a September ’20 study on mask efficacy published in Science Advances.

From a public policy perspective, shortages in supply for surgical face masks and N95 respirators, as well as concerns about their side effects and the discomfort of prolonged use, have led to public use of a variety of solutions that are generally less restrictive (such as homemade cotton masks or bandanas) but usually of unknown efficacy.— Science Advances 02 Sep 2020
N95 Respirator Mask

The most significant difference between the masks is in how they are certified. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)—a branch of the CDC—manages a rigorous process for certifying N95 masks for professional use. KN95 masks, on the other hand, are certified by the FDA for civilian and professional use. Most N95 masks feature elastic headbands for a secure fit, where KN95 masks employ earloops for quick application. KN95 masks must also pass a fit test, confirming a tight seal around the face. Neither N95 masks nor KN95 masks are reusable.

KN95 masks are a type of filtering respirator that are commonly made in China and similar to N95 masks commonly used in the United States. Look for KN95 masks that meet requirements similar to those set by CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for respirators. — Center for Disease Control

Throughout the pandemic, N95-certified masks remain highly sought after. N95-certified masks have long been the industry standard for protection for healthcare and manufacturing. The KN95 mask is a more recent certification, which was a result of emergency authorization allowing for increased importation of foreign-made PPE products for domestic essential workers. Experts remain clear: masks that meet either certification are effective at stopping airborne infections.

N95 respirators have 2 advantages over simple cloth or surgical masks; they are >95% efficient at filtering 0.3-μm particles (smaller than the 5-μm size of large droplets—created during talking, coughing, and sneezing—which usually transmit influenza) and are fit tested to ensure that infectious droplets and particles do not leak around the mask. — National Center for Biotechnology Information
KN95 Respirator Mask

Industry experts testify that the KN95 is equivalent to the N95 standard in terms of protection. The CDC agrees: the KN95 mask is authorized as a suitable alternative to the certified N95 mask in the official documentation.

CDC recommends that N95 respirators should be prioritized for protection against COVID-19 in healthcare settings. Essential workers and workers who routinely wore respirators before the pandemic should continue wearing N95 respirators. As N95s become available, they can be worn in non-healthcare settings. — Center for Disease Control

WeShield offers a range of N95 and KN95 masks for purchase in bulk with express delivery and recurring shipment packages. Contact us and get your team protected today.


Box of 20 (Individually Wrapped) BYD N95 Particulate Respirator Face Masks | NIOSH Approved | Foldable | Non-Sterile | Filter Efficiency: 95% or Greater Against Solid and Liquid Aerosols Free of Oil | Latex Free


N95 (NIOSH) Approved Particulate Respirator Mask, Foldable.


10 Pack of POWECOM KN95 Protective Face Masks | FDA Approved | Filter Efficiency 99.2% Flexible Elastic Ear Loops | Adjustable Nose Bridge

When it comes time to purchase personal protective equipment for your staff, we know you need to have the information to act confidently. At WeShield, our knowledgeable PPE sales team is ready to answer all of your product questions. Those questions will be posted here as part of an ongoing blog series: Ask WeShield.