Have you been considering buying a KN95 mask, but you’re not sure which one to choose? Are you at high risk of severe complications if you become infected with COVID-19, and you’re not sure if KN95 masks will offer adequate protection? We understand — Pandemic Pal was founded by a person with a disability to help people with chronic illnesses and essential workers find the personal protective equipment they need to stay safe — including and especially filtering facepiece respirators.
KN95 Mask Review
For this review, Pandemic Pal founder Karin Willison tested the EIMO KN95 mask, model 9570K, manufactured by Jiangsu Yimao Filter Media Co., Ltd. and sold by GF5 Masks. The package describes it as a “high efficient and low resistant respirator” and calls it a “non-medical mask.” However, it is on the FDA Emergency Use Authorization list and is therefore approved for medical and non-medical settings during the pandemic. It was tested by the United States National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) and passed with flying colors.
These KN95 masks are individually and securely packaged in slightly glossy plastic that is similar to a potato chip bag, with a metallic inner lining. The package is nearly flat and keeps the KN95 mask secure and compact until you need it. You could easily fit a few of these respirators in your purse or backpack and always have one available when you need it. You can give them to friends or family, or if you have a disability and need help with daily tasks, you can provide a supply to your home health aides or direct care workers.
The mask itself is well-made. It fits tightly as a respirator mask should. It has a metal nose piece that can be adjusted to ensure a tight fit along the bridge of your nose and below your eyes. Even though I have limited hand coordination because of my disability, I was able to adjust the fit of the mask around my nose easily.
Because this is a KN95 mask, it uses ear loops like a surgical mask rather than straps that go around your head like an N95 mask. The ear loops have soft, high-quality elastic with rounded edges. They are very comfortable compared to others I have tried, but did tend to slip off my ears. If you have the same problem with ear loops on a mask, you can easily turn them into a head strap using an ear saver or buy a reusable head strap.
I’ve done a lot of research and I believe this brand of KN95 mask is just as effective as a NIOSH-approved N95 mask, provided you seal it fully around your face. I recommend it without reservations. But if you need more information, please read on to learn more about KN95 masks and why this particular respirator is an excellent choice to protect yourself and others.
The Difference Between KN95 Masks and N95 Masks
In the United States, filtering facepiece respirators are certified by NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Other countries have their own certification standards. In this case, we are looking at KN95 masks, which originate in China and follow the Chinese standard: GB-2626-2019 Respiratory Protection — non-powered air-purifying particle respirator. The standards are very similar, except that KN95 respirators can have ear loops instead of head straps. Both require that the mask filter at least 95% of non-oil airborne particles of at least .3 microns in size. COVID-19 is carried in aerosols and droplets that are at least 1 micron in size, which is why when properly fitted, a respirator mask is the best protection you can have — besides staying home, of course!
FDA Emergency Use Authorization for KN95 Masks
The EIMO 9570K KN95 mask is listed on the FDA’s Appendix A: Authorized Imported, Non-NIOSH Approved Respirators Manufactured in China. This means they have been designated as safe to use by healthcare workers and others working in high-risk situations during the COVID-19 emergency.
In order to ensure that the KN95 masks on this list actually meet the standards, the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL), a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began conducting their own tests. They found that many imported filtering facepiece respirators did not perform as well as the manufacturers claimed, and had to remove them from the authorized list. This is why it’s important to purchase your KN95 masks from a reputable company like our partner GF5 Masks and not from a random seller on Amazon or eBay. You can learn how to spot fake respirator masks here. A genuine KN95 mask can offer significant protection from viruses, pollution, wildfire smoke, and other airborne particles.
How KN95 Respirators Are Tested
KN95 filtering facepiece respirators are tested by the NPPTL using a modified version of their standard N95 mask evaluation procedure. They evaluate 30 respirators so they have a representative sample with which to judge their effectiveness. They obtain the respirators from supplies provided to US healthcare workers or from distribution facilities, so the manufacturer does not know which masks will be going to the NPPTL for evaluation.
Each KN95 respirator is placed into an automated filter tester, where it is exposed to sodium chloride (salt water) aerosol particles for 10 minutes. They record the maximum and minimum penetration values for each set of 10 respirators — that’s how many particles get through the mask. Masks must block at least 95% of particles .3 microns and larger in size to pass. For the Emergency Use Authorization, they are only testing the quality of the filter — the mask itself — and not how tightly it seals to your face. Here’s a video showing how the test works.
EIMO KN95 Mask NPPTL Test Results
The EIMO 9570K KN95 mask was tested by the NPPTL and not only did it meet the requirements, it exceeded them. You can see the full results here, but we’ll summarize in plain English. All 30 respirators passed, with the “worst” filtering 98.65% of particles and the best filtering 99.64%. That makes the EIMO 9570K KN95 mask an outstanding choice to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 and other viruses — if it is fitted and worn properly.
In its evaluation, the NPPTL noted that KN95 masks that pass the test still cannot be certified by NIOSH, not due to the filter quality but because they use ear loops instead of head straps. NIOSH strongly believes that head straps are essential to ensure a proper seal. It doesn’t matter how well a respirator filters if particles leak in and out through the edges. Luckily, this problem is easily solved. If you purchase an ear saver or head strap to attach to the ear loops, you can make your KN95 mask fit tightly around your face.
How to Put on a KN95 Mask
This video from our partner GF5 Masks demonstrates how to properly put on and fit a KN95 mask.
Choosing a KN95 Mask Instead of an N95 Mask
This pandemic has been characterized by a relative shortage of NIOSH-approved N95 masks, and a fairly large supply of KN95 masks. However, counterfeit masks have been a problem and it’s sometimes difficult to know whether the KN95 masks you are buying are legitimate. But the EIMO KN95 9570K is fully tested, and because these masks are individually packaged, you know you’re getting the correct model and can feel confident in using them. If you must go to medical appointments or you’re an essential worker, this KN95 respirator can help protect you from the coronavirus and the upcoming flu season.
KN95 Masks for Sale
Pandemic Pal recently partnered with GF5 Masks to help get the word out about the EIMO KN95 mask. This mask is an especially important option for people in the disability and chronic illness community, who often need a larger supply of medical masks for their home health workers and family members/friends who may assist them with everyday tasks. With NIOSH-approved masks running at $5 or more each, this KN95 mask is a less costly alternative that doesn’t compromise safety. GF5 Masks is an American company with high standards for quality, so you’ll get genuine respirators at a fair price with fast shipping. We encourage you to check out this mask to see if it is right for you!