KN95 masks are one of the most popular respiratory masks on the market for COVID-19 protection. The CDC states that authentic KN95 masks provide the highest protection against COVID-19. The issue is the CDC stated 60% of KN95 masks on the market do not actually pass KN95 standards. So how can you make sure you are buying effective and authentic KN95 masks?
Many people are currently looking for reliable masks, but don’t have the $5,000 needed for a Met One test device. As such, we’ve put together this handy 3-step guide on finding reliable, authentic KN95 masks.
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How to Find Real KN95 Masks
1. Find the KN95 mask brand test results on CDC website
The CDC website lists lab test results of hundreds of KN95 masks. Find a kn95 mask by its manufacturer and model number. Avoid purchasing any KN95 masks that have a minimum filtration % under 95%.
2. Check the quality of the mask
Do a quality check of a KN95 mask yourself by checking:
a) Nose piece: Is the metal bar stuck down to the mask well? Does the metal bar snap easily after just a few bends?
b) Seals and joins of masks: Is the section where both sides of the mask join easy to come apart? Try gently pulling to see how well the mask pieces are stuck together
c) Strap and middle join areas: Are the masks thinner where the straps join the mask? Do the straps easily snap off if pulled gently?
Here are some examples of masks that didn’t pass our simple structural test:
If the seals, nose pieces, or straps break easily, then it may be an indication that the masks are not made to a high quality.
3. Check for mask certifications
Check KN95 mask certification, and confirm the mask was tested by an ISO/IEC 17025-accredited test laboratory in China (where the KN95 standard comes from). Make sure the laboratory is on the list of known ISO/IEC 17025 accredited test laboratories in China capable of evaluating the performance of KN95 masks
KN95 masks manufactured after July 2021 should have specific marketing on the mask, as shown below.
Note: While certifications are important in determining if a mask is an effective and authentic KN95 mask, it can not be solely relied upon. A NIOSH review of documents from Chinese companies found a significant amount of falsified documentation.
Conclusion on How to Find Certified Authentic KN95 Masks
It’s important to do your checks prior to purchasing your masks. The three tips above can be considered initial steps in checking the source of your masks.
If you would like help sourcing masks in China, Smart Air may be able to help. As a social enterprise, we can provide mask testing services to test the filtration performance of masks, and can also help provide information on the factories we tested. For more information, email [email protected].
UPDATE: The Chinese Government has now put very strict regulations on which companies can manufacture and export masks. Only a handful of companies are now officially allowed to export masks. These can be founded in the following two lists:
- Whitelist of Non-Medical Grade Mask Companies Able to Export
- Whitelist of Medical Grade Mask Companies Able to Export
Along with wearing masks, air purifiers with HEPA filters are also one of the best ways to stay safe from a variety of pollutants in our air including viruses and dangerous PM2.5. A recent CDC study confirmed significantly lower COVID-19 infection rates in schools that used HEPA air purifiers. HEPA filters can significantly lower the risk of a variety of deadly diseases including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure.
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