What is the Difference Between KN95 and N95 Face Masks?

Updated: We have N95 face masks in stock! Read on to learn what is the difference between KN95 and N95 face masks?

Update: During the height of the pandemic, N95 face masks became unavailable due to supply shortages. Since then, N95 masks have become available again, rendering the KN95 no longer necessary. According to the CDC, Covid-19 cases are beginning to increase across the United States just in time for children to return to school. Given that some schools are currently requiring face masks (along with some businesses recommending or requiring them in some areas), it's important to be aware of where you can find viable face masks to keep you and those around you safe. We currently carry plenty of N95 face masks at Wesco - Safety Solutions. You can peruse our full inventory of N95 face masks on our website.


Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, N95 face masks became extraordinarily difficult to find and were reserved for frontline health care workers. We recommended respiratory protection options more readily available like the KN95 face mask.


The KN95 is China’s equivalent of the N95 face mask that is used both in the United States and Canada. The N95 is certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the KN95 meets the Chinese government performance standards for respiratory protection. While supplies last, you can purchase KN95 face masks certified by the Chinese government from Conney Safety.

Assuming they are tight-fitting and worn properly, studies have consistently shown that both N95 and KN95 masks perform significantly better than either surgical masks or cloth masks at preventing the spread of COVID-19. According to the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, the time it takes to transmit an infectious dose of COVID-19 is correlated to what type of mask or lack thereof both the infected person and the non-infected person in a shared space or in close contact are wearing.


This is a graph that shows how long of an exposure can be had between an infected individual and a non-infected individual in different masking scenarios

What is the Difference Between KN95 and N95?

Both the N95 and KN95 filter 95 percent of tiny airborne particles (0.3 microns), meaning that they are both effective at protecting the wearer against the virus that causes COVID-19.  The two masks perform similarly in other areas as well, but there are some differences that you should be aware of when asking “What is the Difference Between KN95 and N95 Face Masks?”


Besides the N95 being made to meet US standards and the KN95 being made to meet Chinese standards, data obtained from the performance testing of both masks show that there is a lower pressure drop on inhalation and exhalation for the N95 facemask. This signifies that the N95 is slightly more breathable than the KN95 face mask. This should be taken into consideration for intended wearers who may have existing breathing conditions as their breathing may become more restricted.


Another difference is that the KN95 features ear loops as the means to attach to the wearer’s head, versus the head straps utilized on the N95 face mask. While many wearers find the ear loops to be more comfortable, it could impact the effectiveness of the mask if not sized correctly.


Read our guide on everything you need to know about KN95 face masks here.


By the Numbers: What is the Difference Between KN95 and N95?

This is a technical comparison of what is the difference between kn95 and n95 face masks


Double masking was previously recommended when the delta variant of COVID-19 was the dominant variant, but that is no longer the case. The CDC and several other organizations suggest that even those that have received the COVID-19 vaccines wear NIOSH-approved N95 respirators or KN95 face masks. Fit testing is not required to wear masks like the N95 or KN95, however, it does increase the protection rating by 100x.


Still not sure what the difference is between KN95 and N95 face masks?

For more guidance, reach out to our workplace safety experts at safety@conney.com or by calling 800.356.9100, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT. 


IMPORTANT: Always read and follow respirator mask user instructions.


We have stopped stocking KN95 masks since the supply of N95 masks become readily available. To stay fully protected from any future Covid-19 outbreaks, you can now purchase N95 face masks from Wesco.


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