Stocking up on PPE has become the norm over the last year. While it’s a little more straightforward to find a pair of safety glasses that offer protection and hand sanitizer that meets the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation of using a formula with 60 to 95% alcohol concentration, when it comes to choosing a face mask, the choices can feel overwhelming. N95 masks are still the gold standard, but since the CDC recommends saving them for healthcare workers, many people have turned to the Chinese equivalent, KN95 masks, instead.
According to Julie Chen, MD, an integrative medicine physician who is board-certified in internal medicine, that’s because these masks are made from “multiple layers of material that block 95 percent of 0.3 micron particles. Coronavirus is even smaller, at 0.1 microns, but are typically bound to something larger (like droplets), so it’s purported to be 95 percent protective.”
While KN95 masks may provide a high level of protection, there are a few things to consider when shopping for one. Only a few Chinese manufactures have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use, so if you choose to wear one of these masks, be sure to select an option from this list. Plus, you should also be aware there are many counterfeit KN95 masks being sold online, so it’s important to do some research before buying any.