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N95 Face Masks and the A.I.R. Solo

Updated: Oct 15, 2020

In today's uncertain times, most people have heard the term "N95 mask" on the news or online. But what does that term really mean and how does one know to properly use this mask? Our engineering team has provided an overview of frequently asked questions and how the A.I.R. Solo can provide another layer of protection when using these masks.

What is a N95 respirator mask? What makes it unique? N95 respirator masks are common masks used by medical workers for reducing accidental exposure to airborne viruses and other particulate. N95 masks must be tested and verified to meet NIOSH testing standards based on CFR guidelines. These tests generally verify mask fitment, seal to face, durability, and particulate filtration. To get the N95 designation, the mask must filter out 95% of particulate from the inhaled air.

What is a KN95 respirator mask? What makes it unique?

KN95 respirator masks are similar to N95 in their appearance but originate in China and do not pass through the same testing and regulation as standard N95 masks. The KN95 masks are regulated by the Chinese government who also oversees the testing based on Chinese regulation. Because of the national PPE shortage an emergency authorization was issues to allow KN95 masks to be substituted for the standard N95. Like the N95, the KN95 is supposed to filter out 95% of particulate from the inhaled air. What are the differences between N95 and KN95 respirator masks? Both N95 and KN95 are considered to be filtering facepiece respirators (FFR). The US Code of Federal Regulations defines a FFR to be a negative pressure particulate respirator with a filter as an integral part of the facepiece or with the entire facepiece composed of the filtering medium. So while these respirators look similar and are both designed to filter 95% of material, one is regulated by US standards and the other by Chinese standards. Is there a way to determine whether or not a mask is an N95 or KN95? Any mask you purchase should be clearly marked with the designation stamp on the mask itself identifying it as a N95 or KN95. All NIOSH approved FFRs will have this identifying mark, if a mask does not have a stamp it likely was not certified and could be counterfeit. Is one more effective than the other? Both N95 and KN95 are designed to filter 95% of particulate so effectively they should be the same. It is important to note neither of these masks “prevent” inhalation of airborne viruses. As mentioned, 5% of particulate matter can still pass through the filter, potentially exposing the user to viruses. Because of this we developed the A.I.R. Solo, an ultraviolet sanitizer which can be worn under a N95 mask. The A.I.R. Solo exposes the N95 fiber filter to short-wave UV-C Ultraviolet light.

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