As more COVID-19 variants appear (ex. Delta, Omicron), wearing a high-quality face mask is now more important than ever. We already know that all face masks are NOT equal, and there's a difference between medical-grade respirators and cloth face coverings. Now as we enter a new stage of the pandemic, professional-grade masks are gaining attention again because they can filter out particles better than a cloth mask. This quick guide compares KN95 masks & KF94 masks - two popular & protective types of masks available - to help you make the best choice when choosing a mask to protect you, your family & loved ones.
KN95 masks are considered the Chinese equivalent of N95 masks. They feature a tentlike shape that creates a little pocket of air between your nose and the fabric. Unfortunately, because KN95 masks aren't overseen by the mask-regulating body in the US, NIOSH, they aren't considered as effective as N95 masks. It also should be noted that the KN95 is a self-reported test standard, and lacks strict government regulation by China, resulting in many underperforming and often flat-out fake masks. Late last year, a report from the Emergency Care Research Institute raised concerns over fraudulent KN95 masks. According to the report, up to 70% of KN95 masks imported from China don't meet their claimed filtration efficacy standards. The ECRI then issued an alert because many hospitals were ordering these masks, which could pose contamination risks in medical centers where patients are being treated for COVID-19.
KF94 masks are now growing in popularity more than ever. The "KF" stands for "Korean Filter" and the 94 refers to the masks' 94% filtration efficacy against small, potentially harmful particles. According to the South Korean government's standards, these masks filter 94% of particles down to 0.3 microns in size. They feature adjustable ear loops, an adjustable nose bridge and side flaps to create a secure yet comfortable fit. The U.S. has even conducted multiple studies on the KF94 masks and concluded they are indeed more effective in blocking COVID-19 particles than basic 3-ply surgical and cloth masks. Korean masks are also required to test for “CO2 clearance,” which prevents CO2 from building up inside the mask. In contrast, KN95 masks don’t have this requirement. Also unlike their Chinese counterparts, KF94 masks are heavily regulated and tested by the South Korea Ministry of Food & Drug Safety, which makes counterfeits & fakes extremely difficult to produce, sell & export. Furthermore, there are many KF94 Mask options that are authorized by Health Canada & the US FDA. KF94 masks can come in both Adult & Child Sizing, and are often available to purchase in multi-packs.
Which mask should I choose?
Although the KN95 and KF94 mask are almost identical in efficacy, KF94 masks offer a more reliable option since there are significantly fewer parties producing counterfeit & fake masks, especially if you choose a KF94 Mask option that is Health Canada & FDA authorized. This is extremely to help stop the spread & protect those who may be vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as we face more transmissible variants. Some of the most popular, authorized KF94 masks include Forest Village, Good Manner & Fresh Guard.