Since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19 an epidemic, the life of almost every Canadian has changed. Many of us have had to keep ourselves indoors or avoid contact with people on the street altogether. Others have had to drastically change how they go about their work and school programs.
While we have had to alter some of the routines we would have otherwise considered normal last year, we have had to take up new behaviors so that we may exert a bit of harmony in our lives during the coronavirus era.
KN95 Mask Buying Guide 2020
For instance, people have had to observe certain precautionary measures as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) such as moving around with hand sanitizer in our bags or pockets; something we would have otherwise not predicted.
Another precautionary measure that has been rather politicized is the wearing of face masks in public. Clear and consistent messaging on what people should do to protect themselves and others during an infectious disease breakout is important. However, the messaging on the use of masks has been conflicted.
Initially, during the start of the pandemic, people were discouraged from wearing masks. Now, the situation has completely changed with governments and health bodies worldwide recommending that people wear face masks when in public. The turnaround can, however, be attributed to discoveries in scientific research.
Adding on to this back and forth is the fact that there is a variety of masks that people can wear to prevent them from spreading or getting infected with the virus. While shopping for masks, you’re bound to come across surgical masks, fabric masks, N95 masks, and KN95 masks.
In this article, we’ll discuss in length what KN95 masks are, how they are made, how much they cost, as well as how to test the efficiency and identify an authentic KN95 mask from counterfeit.
What Are KN95 Masks
A KN95 mask is a multi-layered mask that covers the face, mouth, and nose. It helps filter out 95% of potentially hazardous particles such as pollen, dust, and virus-causing pathogens. The KN95 mask is primarily a Chinese product and is regulated by the Chinese government to meet the Chinese performance standard GB2626-2006.
The KN95 mas is considered a good alternative to the European FFP2 respirator and the US NIOSH N95. As such, the CDC recommends people to use KN95 masks when N95 masks are not accessible.
Therefore, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has put in place several measures to ensure KN95 mask manufacturers from China supply products of high standards for maximum efficiency.
How a KN95 Mask Is Made
The manufacture of KN95 masks requires several processes. It involves making straps or ear loops that hold the nose in place, metal nostril strips that go over the bridge of the nose, and the fabric that covers the face, nose, and mouth.
KN95 masks are made from cotton, electrostatic melt-blown cloth, non-woven fabric, and polypropylene cloth. These 4 materials are layered together to filter particles as small as 0.3 microns. Bigger particles are more difficult to catch than small particles because of how they move in the air.
As for Covid-19, its pathogens float around in particles as big as 0.1 microns to several hundred microns because people communicate the virus in oral fluid droplets that also have proteins and salts, among other things.
The melt-blown fabric is made from synthetic polymers using precision machines. The produced melt-blown fabric has fibers that are minute in size; less than a micron in diameter.
Manufacturers have cited certain challenges to manufacturing KN95 masks. Some of them include the cost of the precision machines used to make melt-blown fabric which goes well over $4 million, the shortage of fabric which makes large-scale production difficult.
Identifying Authentic KN95 Masks from Counterfeit Ones
With the high demand for face masks, some Chinese manufacturers have flooded the market with counterfeit KN95 masks and if you’re not careful, you might end up buying substandard products.
While some products may filter out 95% of harmful particles, some have been discovered to be very inefficient. Because counterfeiters are highly skilled at making knockoff products that are a mirror copy of the original, the FDA recalled certain KN95 masks and proceeded to impose an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Chinese KN95 masks.
As such, the importation of KN95 masks from China has become a thorough process that demands rigorous tests and fact-checking.
The FDA has also created a database under which certain verified KN95 manufacturers are registered. Masks from the verified suppliers have been authorized for use under the EUA. Before making an order for KN95 masks, try and find an ‘FDA-Approved’ logo on the packaging of the product.
How To Test the Quality of KN95 Masks
Before making a big order for KN95 masks, it’s recommended that you get a few samples first. You can test the quality of these samples using these methods:
The Water Test
Lift the mask by holding the elastic bands and fill the inside of the masking cup with water. A high-quality mask should have no signs of leakage. If water leaks, then the mask is of poor quality.
The Lighter Test
Wear the mask and hold a lit lighter or candle a few inches away from your mouth. Try to put off the flame by blowing. The flame should not go off no matter how hard you blow. In the case that it does, then that brand of KN95 masks is not efficient.
How Much Do KN95 Masks Cost
The high demand for masks during the pandemic has made various suppliers gouge the prices of their products which has been a big problem in the market.
This is because the prices of these masks are largely dependent on the supplier. However, expect the average price of 10 KN95 masks to stand at around $54.
Just a few months ago, wearing a mask in public would have drawn a lot of attention. Things have changed now. Disposable face masks have become somewhat of a necessity in almost every Canadian’s life. They are somewhat of a symbol during the pandemic era.
Before buying KN95 masks, make sure you put certain factors into consideration such as thickness, looseness of its straps, and how well it fits on the face. You might also come across some KN95 masks with valves for easy breathability.
Just make sure the product you eventually choose has been FDA-approved to avoid compromising your health and that of others around you.