The benefits of a KN95 mask against coronavirus
The effects of the outbreak of COVID-19 have been felt across the entire globe. In the face of such dire circumstances we must take direct action, including following social distancing measures, and ensuring the safety of those most vulnerable. An essential part of that in the months to come will be personal protective equipment and respirator masks, like the KN95 mask.
Personal protective equipment, or PPE, refers to any and all equipment that can be used to maximise user health and safety. While it has traditionally been used to refer to gear used by construction workers, such as hard hats, that meaning has shifted. Now when people say PPE, they’re most likely referring to equipment designed to prevent the spread of viruses, such as a KN95 mask.
PPE can cover a wide variety of protective equipment. That means protective goggles, disposable aprons, disinfecting hand gel, and wearing a protective mask. Face masks are recommended since the majority of infections are passed via droplets from an infected person’s sneeze or cough. Coronavirus attacks your respiratory system, which is why the World Health Organisation have repeatedly emphasised the importance of face masks and the KN95 mask.
The gold standard for this essential face protection is the KN95 respirator face mask. In this article we’re going to look at how wearing face masks provides protection against the coronavirus, the science behind a KN95 protective mask, and what to consider when you buy face masks. We'll also cover other preventative measures to battle against coronavirus.
What are face masks?
There are so many different face masks that we must first define the type of face mask we're discussing. In short, a face mask is any sort of fabric covering that provides coverage to parts of your face, whether that’s everything up to your eyes, or just your mouth. These can generally be split between medical masks, and dust masks like the KN95 mask.
The most common face masks you’ll see are probably disposable surgical masks, or medical masks, particularly among healthcare professionals. That’s because the disposable nature of surgical masks makes it easier to keep them sanitary during prolonged periods of exposure to infectious patients. Surgical masks are typically made of a simple mesh of fabrics to try and prevent the transference of larger droplets.
There are other masks designed to fit more closely to the face, like the KN95 mask. Masks in this category create a tight face seal around your nose and mouth via an elastic ear loop, qualifying them as respirator masks, or dust masks. They protect against materials entering your respiratory system. That’s why the KN95 mask has become so significant as a form of protection against the coronavirus.
The science of KN95 masks
If the difference between KN95 respirator masks and medical masks seems confusing, a discussion of how dust masks work, and a KN95 mask in particular, might clarify some of the distinctions. Knowing the type of face mask you have, how masks are rated and the level of protection it provides is essential.
Wearing face masks over your nose and mouth protects against the coronavirus because they filter material from entering your airways. The KN95 mask seal has a large effect on the filtration percentage and maximum leakage.
That seal on a KN95 mask is supported by five layers of filter material, versus the three layers of filter material you'd find in a medical mask. Those five layers of filter material are as follows:
- Non-woven fabric
- Melt-blown cloth
- Additional melt-blown cloth
- Filter sponge
- Ultra-soft non-woven fabric
A KN95 mask has a minimum of 94% filtration percentage and maximum 8% leakage to the inside. On average they stop 95% of particles 0.3 micron in size. A KN95 protective mask protects against materials in concentrations up to 12x OEL (Occupational Exposure Limit) with a 10x APF (Assigned Protection Factor). We'll discuss those figures more momentarily.
They are mainly used in construction, agriculture, and by healthcare professionals against influenza viruses. That's why a KN95 mask protects users efficiently against the coronavirus, and why those masks are rated so highly.
Different EU gradings for face masks
Defining the extent to which a mask like the KN95 mask protects the user against airborne particles is important. That's why the EU has created the FFP1, FFP2, and FFP3 classifications. Understanding the FFP1, FFP2, and FFP3 classifications is important to grasping their level of protection.
The FFP1, FFP2, and FFP3 mask classifications are a simple way of understanding how high the filtration efficiency of each mask is. KN95 face masks fall under the classification of FFP2 masks, alongside the similarly manufactured N95 mask.
FFP1 masks are still certified, but they give the minimum level of protection against non-toxic particulates.
FFP2 masks offer a strong level of protection against hazardous mists, particulates and fumes, and are the most common defence against COVID-19 to eliminate the risk. This covers KN95 masks and N95 respirators.
FFP3 masks provide the highest level of protection that a disposable mask can offer. These are the most premium face masks, generally only used for the highest risk situations.
The World Health Organisation advises that an EU standard FFP2 (or (NIOSH)-certified N95 face mask equivalent) should be worn by healthcare workers when performing any aerosol generating procedures. The most recognisable of these is the KN95 mask.
We used the terminology OEL and APF earlier, with reference to the ways masks are rated. Let's decode what they mean:
Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL): Occupational Exposure Limits are standards set by national authorities that determines the concentration of hazardous substances that is acceptable in workplace air.
Assigned Protection Factor (APF): The APF of a face mask indicates how well it protects the wearer from hazardous substances. Masks have a minimum APF they will have to reach to be usable in specific circumstances.
Since a KN95 mask has an APF of 12 it reduces hazardous substance concentrations up to 12x. That's why we recommend FFP2 masks for most every day situations.
The benefits of KN95 face masks
That clarifies the difference between the most commonly found face masks, and how a KN95 mask works scientifically as a preventative measure. Now we'll outline what makes KN95 masks and other respirator face masks such a helpful piece of equipment against viral infections of the respiratory system.
1. Stops 95% of particles
This is the major benefit of respirator face masks, and why KN95 masks are recommended by us. The seal on a KN95 mask means that the risk of inhaling particles from your surroundings are drastically reduced, providing a secure level of protection. A surgical mask is really only meant to prevent the transference of larger airborne pathogens.
What does that 95% filtration percentage cover? That filtration efficiency means the vast majority of large and small particles 0.3 micron in size will be filtered out. While no coverage is 100%, the KN95 mask and other respirators like it represent that closest and most comprehensive coverage possible for your nose and mouth. Keeping your airways safe with a KN95 mask helps keep others safe too.
2. Limited possibility of leakage
Due to the nature of the seal on a KN95 mask, the pattern of a user’s breath has a very limited effect on potential leakage when using a protective respiratory mask. This means that the seal isn’t prone to lifting or becoming compromised, regardless of your movements or actions when wearing a KN95 mask.
While this seems obvious, there are plenty of masks that will lift and adjust depending on your pattern of breath, negating their usefulness at key points. With a KN95 mask you can be confident in consistent coverage. This is important when masks are recommended for use any time you're in public.
3. Longer-lasting than disposable masks
You shouldn’t use protective face masks more times than is necessary, but a KN95 mask has a longer shelf life than face masks designed to be disposable. Of course, if you’re directly exposed to someone coughing or sneezing, you should absolutely swap it out (washing your hands thoroughly after disposing of it).
Otherwise, they’re good to use a few times until they become deformed and the seal is no longer functional, or the risk of contamination is too high. That makes having a store of KN95 face masks on hand a strong way to keep yourself and those around you safe for extended periods of time during the coronavirus pandemic.
You should always dispose of your KN95 face mask if faced with any of the following situations:
- If your KN95 mask comes into contact with blood or other bodily fluids.
- If you come into close contact with any potentially infectious patient.
- If any contact is made with the inside of the respirator. Never touch the inside of the respirator mask.
- If you are present during an aerosol generating procedure.
Further preventative measures against COVID-19
Wearing a KN95 mask is an important step toward stopping , but there are other preventative measures you can take. A KN95 face mask protects your respiratory systems, and stops 95% of particles, but to be safe you need to consider other PPE and your hand hygiene.
Your eyes, nose and mouth are the most vulnerable points of your body against coronavirus. Avoid touching any of these when in public, and before washing your hands with hand sanitiser or soap and water. Covering your eyes, nose and mouth with protective goggles and a KN95 mask is very effective.
Coughing or sneezing are the most common method of transference for COVID-19. If you see anyone coughing or sneezing in public, make sure to avoid contact with them if possible, and clean your hands thoroughly with hand sanitiser or soap and water at the nearest opportunity. It's important that you dispose of the face mask you were wearing as soon as possible.
Practicing proper hand hygiene
All of the following hand hygiene advice has been drawn from health and safety guidelines by the World Health Organisation. Always carry hand sanitiser for use in public, and reserve washing your hands for when you get home.
To wash your hands properly, wet your hands under running water, before lathering them with soap. Rub your hands together firmly to create a consistent lather, ensuring that you achieve full coverage between your fingers and across the back of your hands.
All healthcare institutions recommend that you wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds every single time. The government has advised that you sing happy birthday twice in order to time it accurately. Then, rinse your hands clean under running water.
When you dry your hands, we would always recommend using a disposable paper towel. That way any remaining germs are disposed by the paper towel in the bin, avoiding further contamination.
Buying a KN95 mask
If you’re looking to protect yourself and your respiratory system from the spread of COVID-19, a KN95 face mask is a great place to start. All of the masks we sell come with certificates of conformity, so you can feel confident when you buy KN95 respirator face masks as protection against the coronavirus. Wearing face masks is a simple way that we can all make a difference, today, no matte the type of face mask.
Aside from respirator masks, we also stock an extensive range of other personal protective equipment, including protective goggles, face shields and disposable masks, as recommended by the World Health Organisation. At PPE Solution, we value your safety above all else. Eliminate the risk of COVID-19 with us today.