Masks and Covid-19: answers to your top questions about N95 and KN95

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“Cloth masks are little more than face jewelry. There is no place for them in the face of Omicron,” says medical analyst Dr. CNN’s Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, recently told the CNN Newsroom.

Here’s what you need to know about masks like N95, where to get them, and how to use them safely.

Why are experts now recommending N95s?

N95 are more prevalent now than when the pandemic began, and U.S. public health experts also have a better understanding that the main reason for coronavirus infection is shared air, Erin Bromage, associate professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, CNN said last month.

Cloth masks — recommended earlier in the pandemic — can filter large droplets, while more effective masks like N95 can filter both large droplets and smaller aerosols or particles potentially laden with airborne viruses when infected people are present, he said bromage.

A fabric face covering has 75% inward and outward leakage, which is the American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists defined as the “percentage of particles entering the face mask” and the “percentage of particles exhaled from a source and exiting the face mask”, respectively.
Properly fitted NIOSH approved N95 respirators can filter up to 95% of particles in the air.

Why the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has infected so many people so quickly is not known at this time, but emphasizes the importance of wearing quality masks, Bromage said.

“If less virus is needed, or if an infected person is shedding more virus, then the role of a mask is that if we can reduce the amount that you actually breathe in, then if we can reduce the amount that you actually breathe in, then the role of a mask is if we can reduce the amount of time that you actually breathe in,” he added added.

What is the difference between N95s and KN95s?

The difference between N95 and KN95 masks is where each is certified Oklahoma Department of Health. The US tests, certifies and regulates the N95s public health experts have recommended; In contrast, manufacturers in China are testing KN95, but the country’s government has no regulatory body to validate it, said Aaron Collins, professor emeritus in Mercer University’s School of Engineering and a mechanical engineer with a background in aerosol science.
About 60% of the KN95 respirators that NIOSH evaluated during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 did not meet the requirements they were supposed to meet the CDC.

“When they’re made to the standard and certified by the appropriate bodies in their country like NIOSH here, they’re basically all doing the same thing,” Bromage said. They “can meet the standards, but they’re not certified to do so. And there are others who clearly don’t.”

KF94 masks are Korean-standard masks that are tested and regulated by Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, said Kelly Carothers, director of government affairs and sustainability Project N95, the national clearinghouse advocating for equitable access to personal protective equipment and coronavirus testing.

How can I recognize a fake N95, KN95 or KF94?

NIOSH has one List of Approved N95 Respirators. These masks should have a cup, flat fold, or duckbill shape; two straps that go around the head; an adjustable wire nose bridge; and corresponding markings indicating NIOSH approval, the says CDC.
The agency also has resources for Identification of counterfeit N95 masks, signs of which include a complete absence of markings on the mask or a misspelling of NIOSH. Resources also cover how to properly don, don, and remove the N95 Carrying out a leak test of the respirator.
The CDC has one list of characters A KN95 respirator could be counterfeit, including manufacturer claims that the KN95 mask is CDC or NIOSH approved or certified.

“If you’re looking for a KN95 mask, we recommend making sure the (Chinese government) standard is on the side of the mask, similar to the NIOSH standards for US N95,” Carothers said.

Those Chinese government standards for KN95 should be GB 2626-2019 or GB 2626-2006, which was the pre-GB 2626-2019 standard, Carothers advised.

The Korean Ministry has one Online database of approved KF94 manufacturers, but the webpage is in Korean and may not be fully and accurately translated by your internet browser’s translation plugin. However, it does pass on some tips in English these graphics for certification marks when purchasing KF94 masks, including packaging with the words “Quasi-Drug Product” and “KF94”.

Can children wear N95, KN95 or KF94?

The N95 are medical masks made for healthcare workers so of course there are no N95 masks designed or made for children as only adults would work in healthcare.

However, larger children of elementary to middle school age and older could potentially wear N95s, which come in small adult sizes, Linsey Marr, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, told CNN this month.

“If you see an N95 being marketed for kids, that should raise a red flag,” Marr said. “There will be KN95 and KF94 that will be developed and marketed for children. With these, it’s the same problem we discussed for adults, which is to make sure you’re getting them from a trusted, reputable source.

Pictured is a KN95 mask for children in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, on January 13.

“…Certainly for children, on average, a KN95 or KF94 offers better protection than a surgical mask or a cloth mask,” Marr added.

If you’re having trouble fitting a KN95, KF94 or N95 to your child’s face, no matter how many brands you’ve tried, you can tie the ear loops or use toggles or cord locks to ensure the mask is snug enough to snuggle up Marr before. the CDC’s knot-and-tuck method could also work.

Where can I get N95s, KN95s or KF94s?

Specially marked “surgical” N95s “should be reserved for use by medical personnel,” the CDC says, but other N95s can be found at some hardware stores, retailers, and drugstores.

N95 masks from 3M – a world leader in N95 mask manufacturers and the largest manufacturer of masks in the US – are available at all major retailers including Home Depot, Target, Lowes, Menards and Amazon’s 3M store, 3M spokeswoman Jennifer said Ehrlich said CNN this month.

Amazon has said it prohibits sellers from claiming their KN95 masks are “FDA-approved” because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not approve KN95 masks.

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“If you go to Amazon, just make sure you’re buying from the (N95) manufacturer’s direct store, like their official store,” Collins said.

For both children and adults, Project N95 is a reputable source which you can get N95s, KN95s and KF94s from, Marr said.
As consumer demand for these masks has increased, there have been reports of price gouging online. Some health authorities, such as Maryland and Milwaukee, offer free N95 masks.

Is N95 safe to reuse?

In medical facilities, health workers frequently change masks to avoid cross-contamination of the patient’s room with equipment worn in another room with an infectious person, Bromage explained. “If you take a single-use medical thing and then make it available to the public, we’re not worried about you cross-contaminating different environments. … It’s really about giving you protection.”

So, yes, you can reuse your N95 mask.

Even after wearing an N95 in a crowded indoor environment — like a subway or a grocery store — the material and filtering ability of an N95 “won’t degrade unless you physically rub it or poke holes in it,” Marr said added that she will be wearing her N95 masks for a week. “You would have to be in really polluted air for several days before it lost its ability to filter out particles.”

However, there are things to keep in mind to safely reuse an N95: avoid touching the front outer part of the mask when putting it on; Instead, handle it by the edges or straps.

If you learn you’ve been near someone infected with coronavirus while wearing an N95, throw that mask away so you don’t risk exposure to the virus, Bromage advised. So it’s possible to be unknowingly exposed to infected people while wearing an N95 distancing as much as possible can help reduce risk.

If the mask is damp, visibly dirty, bent, wrinkled, difficult to breathe, or otherwise damaged — including from makeup — you should replace it to avoid wearing a less effective mask, Marr and Bromage said.

Can I somehow clean N95s?

You shouldn’t wash an N95 because water would dissipate the mask’s special static charge, which helps filter out viruses so well, Marr said.

What you can do is put the mask aside, since particles die off in a matter of hours, she added, and that happens even faster if you put it in sunlight.

But the fact that warmer temperatures can have a “sanitizing” effect on N95 doesn’t mean you should toss the masks in an oven or microwave, Bromage said. That could ruin the mask. “I used to tape mine to my car’s dashboard in the summer and that was more than enough.”

CNN’s Katherine Dillinger and John Bonifield contributed to this story.

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