According to a recent study by ECRI (largest patient safety organization in the USA), most KN95 masks imported from China during the COVID-9 emergency over the last few months do not meet minimum requirements.
In the USA the minimum requirement is N95 (95% or better filtration efficiency at 85L/min) which is similar to FFP2 requirement in the EU (94% or better filtration efficiency at 95L/min).
According to USA Today, U.S. hospitals bought hundreds of thousands of these masks from China over the past six months.
“We’re finding that many aren’t safe and effective against the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Marcus Schabacker, CEO, and president of ECRI. “Using masks that don’t meet U.S. standards puts frontline healthcare workers at risk of infections.” Schabacker said the warnings apply only to K95 masks imported from China.
This reflects the fact that many Chinese suppliers do not have the quality standard or production equipment required for stable performance, even though they manage to get their product certified (with good samples).
Public health experts have already criticized KN95 masks for featuring ear loops instead of straps that go around the head and neck. This feature prevents the mask from sealing effectively against the wearer’s face, with experts saying that a tight seal is important to protect against the virus.
If you need a high level of protection from COVID-19 exposure due to the nature of your work, or if you are among a vulnerable group or have pre existing conditions, you should wear a FFP2/N95 protection level respirator, made in the US or in Europe, and certified by a EU or US based laboratory. And your mask should have head bands, not ear loops.