N95 vs KN95 Respirator Masks

Protective Face Masks

Disposable respirators are the general industry term for face masks designed to protect the wearer from inhaling hazardous atmospheres, including fumes, vapors, gases, and particulate matter such as dusts and airborne microorganisms. Disposable respirators come in many different styles and sizes, to accommodate all types of face shapes. The differences in respirator design impact the respirator assigned protection factors (i.e., the resulting degree of protection from which kind of hazard). These respirators are designed to be thrown away after use.

In North America, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), under authorization of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, provides a testing, approval, and certification program assuring respirators used in the workplace meet the standards of 42 CFR Part 84. NIOSH respirators are rated N95, N99 and N100 according to their filtration capability. The N95 is by far the most popular disposable respirator for use in the United States.

Comparison of NIOSH N95 and KN95 Respirators

Filtering facepiece respirators (FFR) are subject to various regulatory standards around the world (see table below) and provide a much higher level of protection with face form fitting and greater pressure drop. To claim compliance with a particular standard as listed below, these respirators must meet or exceed required physical properties and performance characteristics, which can vary according to the regulatory bodies of different countries.




(NIOSH-42 CFR84)



(GB2626- 2019)

Filter performance

(must be ≥ X% efficient)

≥ 95%


≥ 95%

Test agent




Flow rate

85 L/min


85 L/min

Total inward leakage (TIL) – tested on human subjects each performing exercises*



≤ 8% leakage (arithmetic mean)

Inhalation resistance – max pressure drop

≤ 343 Pa


≤ 350 Pa

Flow rate

85 L/min


85 L/min

Exhalation resistance – max pressure drop

≤ 245 Pa


≤ 250 Pa

Flow rate

85 L/min


85 L/min

Exhalation valve leakage requirement

Leak rate ≤ 30 mL/min


Depressurization to 0 Pa ≥ 20 sec

Force applied

-245 Pa


-1180 Pa

CO2 clearance requirement



≤ 1%

*Please note: Respirators may be designed to fit people with facial features common in a specific country or region. For example, KN95 respirators may be designed specifically to fit people with facial features common in China and other countries in Asia. As a result, some individuals with different facial features may not be able to achieve a satisfactory fit. This should be considered when selecting and using a respirator approved to other countries and region’s standards.

N95 NIOSH Respirators

What are N95 NIOSH Respirators?

Unlike single layer disposable nuisance dust masks used for light construction or cleaning activities, the N95 NIOSH respirator and surgical masks are examples of personal protective equipment (PPE) that are used to protect the wearer from very small (0.3 microns in diameter) airborne particulates and from liquids contaminating the face. The N95 NIOSH respirator (or mask) is a filtering facepiece respirator (FFR) that meets the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) N95 classification of air filtration, meaning that it filters at least 95% of airborne particles.

The N95 NIOSH rating meets the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention guidelines for protection against tuberculosis and anthrax spores, as well as the most foreseeable bioweaponry, which ranges in size from 1.0 to 5.0 microns. Because of their effectiveness and comfort, N95 NIOSH respirators are standard in many industries, and have even become a popular way to prevent the spread of germs among the general public. If you sell to, or are in, the industrial, medical, dental, automotive, tattoo or do-it-yourself markets, many of your customers may require N95 respirators. N95 masks must be properly fit tested and are “single use” respirators.

The N95 NIOSH respirator has also become popular in the medical field. Both NIOSH and the CDC recommended N95 NIOSH respirator for protection of healthcare workers who come in direct contact with patients with COVID-19 and other airborne viruses. There are also N95 NIOSH respirators that are certified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in surgery.

What to look for in an N95 NIOSH Respirator?

KN95 Respirators

What are KN95 Respirators?

KN95 respirators are disposable respirators approved by Standardizations Administration of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) regulated under GB2626-2019 Respiratory Protective Equipment, Non-Powered Air-Purifying Particle Respirator Standards. Much like NIOSH standards, GB2626-2019 requires that the material in the KN95 respirator must provide a minimum filtration efficiency of at least 95% of particulate matter >0.3 microns and a maximum of 8% and leakage to the inside of the respirator. These types of respirators typically feature a very tight snug fit on the face.

What to look for in a KN95 Respirator?