Updated: Feb 12, 2021
In this article we will help you to understand everything about protective face masks.
95 ? The meaning of the numbers
95 represents the capturing virus-sized (0.1 microns) particles so 95 means a 95% capture rate. The standard 3 ply masks most people are purchasing do not have capture rate
« N » 95 stand for NIOSH a American organisation who manage the USA standards which captures 95% of 0.1 microns viruses.
« KN » 95 simply means it follows Chinese standards which also captures 95% of 0.1 microns viruses.
In Europe there is two different standards : The « filtering face piece » knows as « FFP » is called by the EN standard 149:2001 and EN 143 standard manage by the CEN (European Committee for Standardization).
These two standards covers the P1 / P2 / P3 ratings for three levels of filtration :
Source : Wikipedia
We can say that China’s KN95s are equivalent to US N95s. Face mask standards for Europe (FFP2), Australia (P2), Korea (KMOEL), and Japan (DS) are also highly similar.
Let’s see how all the different standards compare:
What you need to know about mask standards and effectiveness
Single-use face masks (normally one layer, very thin) are typically only effective at capturing larger dust particles but do so fairly well.
Surgical face mask standards have higher requirements for capturing virus-sized (0.1 microns) particles, however, they vary by region so check the filtration levels.
Pollution face masks (respirators) typically capture >90% of virus-sized particles. You see the rating system in the table above for the exact proportion for each certification and the relevant ratings – N95, KN95, FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3.