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 imported into the UK and Europe. The N95 is an American standard managed by NIOSH – part of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) it means .
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.
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 are 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 – Chinese masks do – KN95 masks are the Chinese standards for N95/FFP2 masks.
Face Mask standards can be confusing: N95, KN95, FFP1, P2, or surgical mask?
According to mask manufacturer 3M, “it is reasonable to consider” China’s KN95s “equivalent” to US N95s. 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:
What you need to know about mask standards and effectiveness
- Single-use masks (normally one layer, very thin) are typically only effective at capturing larger dust particles but do so fairly well.
- Surgical mask standards have higher requirements for capturing virus-sized (0.1 microns) particles, however, they vary by regions so check the filtration levels.
- Pollution 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.