What’s the difference between KF-94 and KN-95 Masks?

Lee Sooyeon

p.c: retailers

             Now that the Delta variant is spreading quickly throughout the world, keeping track of which masks we should wear to protect ourselves and the people around us from COVID-19 has been even more important. Earlier in the pandemic, when N95 masks were in short supply and recommended only for medical professionals, more and more people turned to two other popular mask types, KN95 and KF94, since they both come very close to the level of filtration found in an N95 mask. With the Delta variant on the rise, people are again seeking out these expert-approved face masks. But what’s the difference between the two?

             You might all know “KF” in KF94 stands for “Korean filter,” and the “94” indicates a 94 percent filtration efficacy. Experts say the South Korean equivalent to the N95 mask, with a few differences. It combines elements of an N95 mask with those of a cloth mask, contouring close to the face with an adjustable band around the bridge of the nose. Many people like them because the tentlike shape creates a little pocket of extra space between your mouth and the mask. You might assume that, because of the one percent difference in efficacy rates, KN95 masks do a better job. But in fact, there are no head-to-head trials between the two. Experts say what matters more is how tightly each mask fits your face shape and size. As the critical factor for these masks is the face seal. Without a good seal, they are almost all the same, since air will just go out (and come in) through the open spaces on the sides of the mask.” Because of this, KN95s and KF94s are more effective when worn by adults rather than children, even if kids are wearing the appropriate size. That’s because children are much more likely to touch their masks a lot, a habit that breaks the important seal around the nose and mouth.

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