July 13, 2020

Face Mask standards can be confusing: N95, KN95, FFP1, P2?

Face Mask and what they are. This article can help you to understand about N95, KN95, FFP1/2 why it is important to know what you and buying and protection level it will give. You want to do the right thing by wearing a mask so make sure you spend your money wisely and purchase the right one.

What do the numbers mean? 95 represents the capturing virus-sized (0.1 microns) particles so 95 means a 95% capture rate. The standard 3 ply masks most people are purchasing do not have capture rate

The N95 is an American standard managed by NIOSH – part of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) it means. We are being asked for N95 mask regularly now, but people don’t seem to realise this is a USA standard and that if they buy these they will cost more as have to be tested to this US standard.

Europe uses two different standards. The “filtering facepiece” score (FFP) comes from EN standard 149:2001 and EN 143 standard covers P1/P2/P3 ratings. Both standards are maintained by CEN (European Committee for Standardization). The rating is based on what percentage of particles the masks captures. The closest European equivalent to N95 are FFP2 / P2 rated respirators, which are rated at 94%, compared to the 95% of N95 – Europe doesn’t have a 95% rating.

KN95 masks are the Chinese standards for N95/FFP2 masks. They do have a 95% rating.

Urgent update: On the 11th June, the HSE warned against the use and purchase of the ‘KN95’ respirator following the quarantine of around 1.5m units of these and many more claiming to be of other standards. Image Line can offer Notified Body certified FFP2 masks shortly from stock. These will complement our current inventory of certified IIR Medical face masks, of which over 2m have been supplied to front-line services in the UK.

According to face mask manufacturer 3M, “it is reasonable to consider” China’s KN95s “equivalent” to US N95s. Face mask standards for Europe (FFP2), Australia (P2), Korea (KMOEL), and Japan (DS) are also highly similar.

Let’s see how all the different standards compare:

Guide to types of face mask

From https://smartairfilters.com/

What you need to know about mask standards and effectiveness

  1. Single-use face masks (normally one layer, very thin) are typically only effective at capturing larger dust particles but do so fairly well.
  2. Surgical face mask standards have higher requirements for capturing virus-sized (0.1 microns) particles, however, they vary by region so check the filtration levels.
  3. Pollution face masks (respirators) typically capture >90% of virus-sized particles. You see the rating system in the table above for the exact proportion for each certification and the relevant ratings – N95, KN95, FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3.

But those masks can only work if you have in mind how to use them correctly

How to wear a face mask

We sell a full range of disposable face masks, reusable and high end fashion face masks online here

For more information check out this article: