Unraveling the Differences: KN95, KF94, and N95 Masks Explained

Unraveling the Differences: KN95, KF94, and N95 Masks Explained

As we begin to normalize protecting ourselves and others from COVID-19, personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, remain critical in limiting the virus spread. KN95, KF94, and N95 masks have drawn a lot of attention among the various types of face masks available due to how well they filter airborne particles. In this article, we examine the subtle differences and variations among these three face masks, explaining each one's standards, manufacturing background, filtration potential, and regulatory certifications.

Understanding Each Mask Standard

The KN95 Face Mask Standard

  • The KN95 mask is a respiratory protective device that meets the Chinese standard GB 2626-2019. It is designed to filter out at least 95% of airborne particles, including bacteria and viruses. The "KN" in KN95 stands for "Chinese standard - non-oil," indicating that these masks are not appropriate for preventing the inhalation of oil particulates

The KF94 Face Mask Standard

  • The KF94 mask is a similar respiratory protective device that originated from South Korea and adheres to the KMOEL-2017-64 Korean standard. In accordance with the respective standard, the mask must filter at least 94% of airborne particles, including fine dust and infectious agents.

The N95 Face Mask Standard

  • The traditional N95 mask, on the other hand, adheres to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) standards in the United States. It must remove at least 95% of airborne particles, including non-oil-based particulates. Much like the KN95 standard, the "N" in N95 signifies that the mask is not resistant to oil. Please kindly note that in order for a mask to be NIOSH-approved, it is required to be equipped with headstraps as opposed to ear loops. If an N95 mask is equipped with ear loops, it cannot and is not NIOSH-approved, however, will still filter out a minimum of 95% of airborne particles.

Manufacturing Origins

Where are KN95 masks manufactured?

  • The majority of KN95 masks on the market are manufactured in China. They are produced by various manufacturers and are tested and certified to ensure their quality and compliance with the GB 2626-2019 standard.

Where are KF94 masks manufactured?

  • KF94 masks are primarily produced in South Korea. Korean manufacturers adhere to the KMOEL-2017-64 standard and test the mask's filtration efficiency and overall performance.

Where are N95 masks manufactured?

  • N95 masks are primarily produced in the United States. To receive the certification, manufacturers must adhere to NIOSH standards and need to subject their masks to rigorous testing procedures.

Understanding Filtration Efficiency

The KN95, KF94, and N95 masks are all designed to provide high filtration efficiency. In order for each mask to be deemed an authentic KN95, KF94, or N95 mask, the mask must filter out a minimum of 95% of airborne particles (or 94% for KF94 masks). Some may be tested and proved to filter at 98% or even 99%, however, minor differences in testing protocols and particle size measurement may result in subtle differences in performance. With this in mind, the filtration rate cannot be below 95% (or 94% for KF94 masks). 

At Kind, all of our N95 and KN95 masks are independently tested in the United States and have passed with a minimum filtration efficiency of 95%! Each mask is a great option for long-lasting, reliable protection.


Regulatory Approvals

  • KN95 Face Masks: KN95 masks have been widely used in China during the COVID-19 pandemic and have undergone testing and certification by authorized Chinese organizations.
  • KF94 Face Masks: KF94 masks have been approved and certified by the South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) to ensure compliance with the KMOEL-2017-64 standard. They are widely used and well-known in South Korea for their filtration capabilities.
  • N95 Face Masks: N95 masks are regulated and approved by the NIOSH in the United States. They are subjected to extensive testing to ensure that they meet the N95 standard and are widely used in healthcare settings to protect healthcare workers from airborne hazards. 

Availability and Global Recognition

  • KN95: KN95 masks are widely available and have been exported to countries all over the world due to their widespread production in China. They are recognized as a viable alternative to N95 masks in situations where the latter may be scarce.

  • KF94: KF94 masks, which were originally designed for domestic use in South Korea, have gained recognition for their filtration efficiency and are increasingly being exported to other countries. They're especially popular in Asian markets.

  • N95: N95 masks are well-known around the world and have been widely used in healthcare and industrial settings. They are considered the gold standard in respiratory protection and have been the primary choice for healthcare professionals.

Concluding Thoughts

The KN95, KF94, and N95 masks have emerged as critical tools for personal protection in the fight against COVID-19 and other airborne viruses. While they come from different parts of the world and adhere to different standards, all three masks provide excellent filtration and are designed to reduce the risk of inhaling harmful airborne particles. Choosing any of these masks, whether the KN95 from China, the KF94 from South Korea, or the N95 from the United States, can provide significant protection when worn correctly. To ensure authenticity and effectiveness, it is critical to follow proper mask-wearing guidelines and prioritize obtaining masks from reputable sources.