Personal Protective Equipment

What Experts Are Saying About KN95 Mask – The Insider’s Guide

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What Experts Are Saying About KN95 Mask – The Insider’s Guide

The pandemic is getting on everyone’s nerves now, and why shouldn’t it? It’s been over 6 months that people have almost forgotten how life was before COVID-19. They can’t step out of their homes without wearing protective equipment and carrying sanitizers. And then there’s that lingering fear that even the masks won’t be able to stop the infection from spreading. Well, can it not? Only if you wear the right masks, of course, you can stay safe and prevent getting the infection from the people around you. 

With so much information about these protective masks circling the internet these days, it’s important to achieve clarity and learn to identify the right products to enjoy about 95% protection from the virus. In this post, we plan to do just that and help people know what the experts are saying about KN95 masks and how efficient they are in curbing the spread. Let’s get on with it then. 

What the experts feel about KN95 masks

Earlier this year, the CDC allowed the use of KN95 masks to meet the rising demands for protective gear, as they were widely available, unlike the N95s and related masks. It was also approved by the FDA in April 2020, because of its high-filtration capacity almost the same as that of N95. Fitting perfectly around the face, these masks form an airtight seal that prevents you from inhaling infected droplets. Most of these masks come with earloops that are both comfortable and convenient, unlike the other masks that go around the head or are needed to be tied at the back. 

These masks come in five layers, all non-woven and moisture-resistant to filter out maximum particles more than 0.3 microns in size. The two layers in the middle are composed of hot-air cotton and melt-blown fabric that trap microbes and provide you with disinfected air to inhale. This apart, the masks have adjustable nose clips, just like their N95 brothers, that stand on the bridge of your nose, thus giving you a customized fitting. If the mask leaves some gap between your face and the external environment, you can press the nose clip gently to ensure tightness. However, don’t make it so tight that you feel suffocated. Just make sure that there’s no air gap between the mask and your face. 

According to the experts, the KN95 masks are better than the surgical masks, which have 95% filtration capacity, whereas the former boasts of at least 95% filtration efficiency, and it can be more. Airborne particles, droplets, bacteria, or viruses can easily be filtered by these masks that offer an enhanced form of protection in the current pandemic. However, if you use these masks for too long, the filtration capacity can drop to 50% or even less. Constant washing and sanitizing can also affect their efficiency, so be wary of that. In this regard, CDC recommends reuse of these masks only if they are properly stored after each use, and the fitting and functionalities remain the same as new. 

Although there’s no particular evidence suggesting the efficiency of KN95 masks against coronavirus, they are used by healthcare professionals and other frontline workers extensively, because of their filtration capacity, which equals to that of N95. If you’re in a public place, you should cover your face properly by a KN95 mask and maintain 6 feet distance, as much as possible from the people around you. Both things are interdependent and without any one of them, you may not enjoy the 99% protection that you seek in the pandemic. 

Is there at all any difference between the N95 and KN95 masks?

As the filtration capacity and other properties, like leakages and flow rates of the KN95 masks, are almost the same, people may mistake one for the other easily. But you should know your mask well before you buy it to avoid future complications. One of the key differences between the two is the pressure drop effect of the N95 masks, which makes it a little more breathable than the KN95 masks. However, the N95 ones are best for healthcare workers and frontline warriors, as they have to keep wearing these masks for a longer duration than most others. For the common people, the KN95 masks are happy alternatives that ensure the same level of protection. As these masks are available in plenty, you don’t have to worry about causing a dent in the supply of protective gear for the frontline workers. 

Also, the KN95 mask manufacturers need to run real-time human tests for leakages before taking them to the market. No such requirements need to be fulfilled by the manufacturers of the N95 respirators. Hence, when you go out to buy a KN95masks, you can rest assured it’s of the premium quality, because of these stricter rules that the manufacturers have to adhere to. 

How to manage the KN95 masks

You might be wondering how naive it sounds, as everyone would know the basic rules of wearing a mask by now, right? 

Wrong!

If it was so obvious, people wouldn’t have been making unmindful mistakes, and the rate of infections would have gone down significantly. But, people do make mistakes, and the following tips will prevent you from making a costly one:

Clean your hands properly

Use either soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer to clean your hands properly before touching the KN95 mask. If you’re at home, washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is the best idea. But if you’re outside and water isn’t available anywhere near you, get that sanitizer out of your pocket, squeeze some amount of it on your palm and rub both your hands with it for about 30 seconds. Make sure that the sanitizer you’re using has at least 60% alcohol, best 70%. 

Don’t touch the front side of the mask

Of course, that’s the part where the infected droplets are stuck, so just don’t. Hold it by one of the earloops and gently pull it out, do whatever you need to, and put it on again. Again, when you’re putting the mask on, make sure you hold it by the earloops and not the center. And never touch the inside of the mask without sanitizing your hands. 

Check your masks properly

Before putting the mask on, take it in a brightly-lit space and check it thoroughly for manufacturing defects. Don’t jeopardize your safety, even if you’re running late for work or other purposes. Hold it against a light source, see if there’s any damage to the product, the layers, the earloops, or the nose pin. Inspect it for loose foam, open stitches, or anything else that indicates poor quality. Once you’re 100% assured that the mask is perfect, put it on and run. 

Dispose of it properly

When you’re disposing of the KN95 mask, make sure you wrap it up in tissue paper to prevent anyone else from touching the infected mask. Throw it only in the dustbin with a lid and not an open one, as the virus can spread through aerosols in the air. It’s unwise to throw it away in a plastic sheet, as it may contaminate the environment then. 

How to understand if a product is genuine?

With the rising demand for KN95 masks, a lot of counterfeit products are circulating in the market, so you should be able to identify the real thing first. The following suggestions will help:

  • FDA certification – See if there’s any mention of the FDA on the package. As the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t approve every respirator that comes in the US market, you can rest assured if you find the mark. 
  • TC number or NIOSH logo – If there’s anyone of them on the mask, you can wear it proudly without fearing the virus. The product is genuine. 
  • No decorations – The masks should be plain and free from any additional decorations or attachments, like sequins. If there’s any, you should return the product immediately, as it’s not an authentic KN95 then. 
  • Are not flammable – The real KN95 masks won’t burn with a flame when exposed to one. They should just melt. 
  • Moisture-resistance – A genuine KN95 mask will never soak water. You can pour a few drops on the inside of the mask and see if they pass through and wet it. If they do, you can return the product, as KN95 masks are inherently moisture-resistant. 

Now that you know how to differentiate between a genuine product and a fake KN95 mask, let’s give you some tips to disinfect them without affecting their quality and integrity. 

Know the safest methods of disinfecting KN95 masks

  • Don’t wash them – Even if they are moisture-resistant, studies have revealed that these masks lose their efficiency with a wash. 
  • Don’t rub alcohol – It reduces the effectiveness of the masks too, and sometimes by as much as 37%. 

So, what should you do?

Well, the best and safest way to disinfect your KN95 mask is to let it dry on its own. Leave it be for about 5-6 hours in sunlight, preferably in an open space, and the virus will be eliminated within that period. According to scientific researches, the H1N1 virus strain stays on top of electrostatic clothing, like that of the upper layer of the protective masks, for not more than 9 hours. So just hang it outside for that period without using any chemicals or sprays. 

Just for your information

The coronavirus is said to be more active at lower temperatures, below 4C, and can survive longer on a surface under such conditions. That’s why it’s important to hang your mask out in the sun to kill it off faster. If you follow the aforementioned suggestions and take maximum precautions, you may survive this crisis without a scratch (or without losing a breath). Knowledge is important, so know more, learn more, and create awareness to help everyone else.

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