N95, KN95, BFE, and other mask definitions.

Not all masks are created equal? Going shopping for masks to keep your staff or loved ones safe? What the difference between the definitions of N95, KN95 and BFE? While you may be tempted to buy the cheapest mask off the shelf it is important for you to understand what all the terms on that mask box mean. If you are here to read about reusable masks then you might want to take a look at our article.

Meanwhile, here are the top mask terms that most people ask about.

KN95? Is that a subgrade of N95?

Actually both the N95 and KN95 are of similar mask standards and according to leading mask manufacturer 3M, it is equivalent to the N95 sold in the US. These masks are both rated to catch at least 95% of tiny particles that are up to 0.3 microns. Particles that can include dust, smog, and even germs. The masks are created to be effective to capture smaller particles at a flow rate of 85L per minute. The difference? The KN95s are required by china standards to pass a fit test on actual humans whereas the N95 doesn’t. And based on specifications the N95 is slightly more breathable. Most of these standards may be different but they are minor and you may not be able to feel the differences in the masks.

ASTM, GB2626 or EN149?

These actually are the country lab standards that the masks are benchmarked on. The code ASTM – widely referred to as ASTM F2100, is mainly via the NIOSH standards in the US. China will have the GB/YY rating and Europe will have EN starting alphabets, which all have different requirements and classifications.

How many mask types are there?

Disposable masks have various certification types. You may find a total of 3 different certifications in the market. But to put it simply they are respirators, surgical masks, and single-use face masks. The last one is the handmade mask which may not provide as much protection without a filter layer.

FFP1, FFP2, FFP3 is greater the number better?

FFP1, FFP2, and FFP3 are classifications under the EN149 European Standards. FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 blocks around 80%, 94%, and 99% respectively on the most-penetrating particle size (MPPS) 0.3 Microns. As the number increases you will get more protection against the particles you are looking to block. Usually found on respirator masks.

Are pollution masks effective against viruses?

Pollution mask respirators can capture more than 90% of virus-sized particles.

Surgical vs Single Use Masks are they the same?

Single-Use Masks are normally just a single layer and have lower filtration standards. Whereas the surgical masks will need to be able to filter them by meeting their level or type standards. Single-use masks are also great to use as environmental masks to block out dust particles.

Level 1, 2, and 3 vs. Type I, Type IR, Type II, Type IIR.

These are also based on the various country ratings; level based on US ASTM Standards and Type based on the Europe EN 14683 standards. Usually for surgical masks, the higher the rating is the better it is at filtering bacteria particles. With ASTM F2100 Level 3 able to filter more than 98% of 0.1-micron particles. Although EN14683 Type IIR does not test on 0.1 microparticles, it still ensures the mask can filter more than 98% of 3.0-micron particles, additionally providing microbial cleanliness of 30 CFU/g or below where the ASTM F2100 test do not test.

What is P.M.?

P.M. stands for particulate matter or pollution particles they usually used for environmental measurement for smog or haze.

BFE is not a type of mask?

No, unfortunately, BFE is not a mask type it stands for Bacterial Filtration Efficiency and measures the microparticles to 3.0 microns. Most of these are found as surgical masks requirements, as they will require higher requirements to capturing virus particles.

What is the lowest requirements for a face mask to be effective?
Most medical professionals will tell you that the single-use face mask is the lowest requirement for an effective face mask. A cloth or handmade mask without a filter may not be the most effective solution.

So now that you know the difference between the definitions of N95, KN95 & BFE. Remember to check your box for the right certifications as your health is worth more than saving a buck or two. All PEPCO masks come certified to ensure that your safety but it is important to be able to put on and manage using a mask properly for it to be effective. For more information on distribution and verification please feel free to contact us. PEPCO keeping generations safe.