Unmasking the KN95Last Updated: October 15, 2021
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have continually updated their information regarding the Coronavirus Disease as new knowledge developed and became available. Previously, the CDC suggested the optional usage of a non-medical piece of personal protective facial equipment in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control have now released a statement recommending all persons who are leaving their home should do so with the appropriate safety equipment in tow- namely, an appropriate face mask.
Opinions about what makes an 'appropriate' mask vary from the free, MacGyver-inspired DIYs to obscenely expensive medical-grade masks which need to be custom-fitted to even function properly. But neither of those are what's recommended by the very people studying this disease.
The CDC's Choice
The answer is the KN95.
While this mask is nearly equivalent to the standard protective medical equipment which should be in American hospitals, the KN95 is a European standard. This means there are compliance issues keeping KN95s from being utilized in hospitals, despite their comparable efficacy.
In performance regards, the two are almost identical. Both masks filter out up to 95% of particles over .3 microns in size. What's a micron? Imagine a single grain of table salt. That is about 100 microns. Cut that grain of salt into 100 pieces and it's still three times too big to get through either of those masks.
Why Choose KN95?
The KN95 personal protective facial mask is a medical-quality product which protects not only the wearer, but anyone with whom the wearer comes in contact. With states reopening and more and more people returning to work, social distancing is bound to become slightly lax as a result. It is important to attempt to remain 6 feet apart, but in moments when that may not be possible, a mask is the best protection.
In order to be certified, KN95 masks must undergo rigorous testing with the participation of the wearer in order to perform a 'seal check'. This seal is what offers the greatest protection against viruses in particular.
Because airflow is regulated both coming into and leaving the mask, wearing one in public will insure that you don't inadvertently inhale something unwanted when your cubicle-mate swears their sneeze was just due to allergies.
Quadruple Layered Protection
Many DIY masks are single-layered, maybe double at best, and often made out of something soft and breathable, such as cotton. But this 'breathability' is exactly what makes such masks ineffective. The woven fabric is too loose to effectively keep out small particles, rendering it largely ineffective when faced with direct contact to disease.
KN95 masks have four non-woven layers to capture smaller and smaller particle sizes, in order to offer maximum protection. Because this protection comes at the cost of easy breathability, authentic KN95 masks include a one-way exhalation valve for more comfort and ease of use over long periods.
How to Use Your KN95
The very first step to putting on a mask is washing your hands. If your hands aren't clean when you put it on, then you're inhaling germs from the get-go and certainly don't need a mask keeping them right against your mouth for hours on end. Clean hands mean a clean mask, and that's the only way to wear one. So start with a 20 second hand wash, using soap, a thick lather, and hot water.
If you're tired of 'Happy Birthday', how about some well-loved Broadway musical-inspired snippets? You can sing yourself to cleanliness by humming the chorus to 'Tomorrow' from Annie, 'Seasons of Love' from Rent, or even 'My Favorite Things' from The Sound of Music. Who says chores can't be fun?
With freshly clean hands, orient the mask so that the metal strip is at the top and laying across the bridge of your nose. The KN95 has a printed exterior and a concave interior with an adjustable fit which can be accomplished simply by pinching the metal strip until snug against your nose. Secure the straps over your ears and adjust as necessary to ensure a proper fit.
How to Get the Most out of Your Mask
Ideally, you would be able to utilize your mask once and dispose of it, for optimum safety. However, such equipment is difficult and expensive to produce, and if it can safely be reused even a handful of times, then it is to the benefit of the consumer and the population as a whole to responsibly use and manage resources during times of hardship or crisis.
Because at-home Ultraviolet lasers are not available in the power range anywhere near strong enough to eliminate potentially threatening particulates, it falls to other at-home sterilizers instead. The CDC notes that it does not approve of any one method for at-home mask sterilization, although it also states that it does not object to such attempts.
Studies have found a 70% ethanol solution sprayed over the exterior of the mask and then dried in a standard oven at 70 degrees Celsius (approximately 158 degrees Fahrenheit) for 10 minutes can yield a sterile, fully functional KN95 mask for up to at least 2 uses. After that, the built-in respirator function begins to wear down, rendering the mask less and less effective.
Where to Buy High Quality Masks
If you cannot self-quarantine and must leave your home to work or care for others, your best choice for protection is an KN95 mask. Not only is it ideally designed to protect against the kinds of dangers currently running rampant, but they are easy to use, medical quality, and compliant with CDC recommendations.
To protect yourself, your loved ones, and others with whom you share your time and life, the optimal choice is a medical-grade, personal protective facial mask.
Our choice for the best mask source is VitalDepot.com, with KN95 masks available here.