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KN95 Mask Instructions

October 7, 2021

What is a KN95?

 A KN95 is a type of filtering facepiece respirator that is manufactured outside of the United States. A KN95 that meets international standards and fits the wearer properly may filter up to 95% of airborne particles. 

How do I obtain a KN95? 

UMD is providing one free KN95 mask per person to students, faculty, and staff. 4Maryland has information about mask distribution but please feel free to provide your own. They are readily available online and in many local retailers. KN95s, while disposable, are designed to be worn multiple times safely.

How is a KN95 different from an N95 respirator? 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not consider a KN95 mask to be a negative-pressure particulate respirator as an N95 is since it has not been certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). An N95 respirator is required to be fit tested when worn for respiratory protection for specific workplace duties. A KN95 cannot be substituted for the required use of an N95 respirator in workplace settings (for example, in healthcare settings.)

Why Use a KN95 instead of an N95? 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that N95s be reserved for use by health care providers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why use a KN95 instead of a cloth or surgical mask? 

A KN95 mask that fits the wearer properly (fits snugly over the nose and mouth and under the chin without gaps) may filter up to 95% of airborne particles. This is a higher level of effectiveness than has been shown in studies for cloth masks and surgical masks. 

How do I tell if a KN95 mask is counterfeit?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that some KN95 masks are counterfeit. UMD is providing KN95 masks that have been vetted through trusted vendors. See the CDC tips on how to purchase international respirators for more information. 

Will a KN95 protect me during an exposure to COVID-19?

A KN95 mask provides better protection for you when worn properly and reduces the spread of the virus from other individuals who are wearing one. You are less likely to develop COVID-19 after close contact with someone who tests positive when you are wearing a KN95 mask.

How do I properly use my KN95?

  • If possible, wash or sanitize your hands immediately before and after putting your KN95 on and immediately before and after taking it off when planning to reuse it.

  • Place the mask over your face, with the bottom below your chin and the nosepiece up.

  • Place the straps of the mask over each of your ears.

  • Adjust the metal nose clip using fingers from both hands to mold the clip to the shape of your nose

  • Adjust fit as necessary to reduce air flow around the mask.

  • Significant facial hair (more than 3-days growth) adversely affects the ability of the KN95 to form a tight seal around your face and thus reduces the KN95’s effectiveness at protecting you from COVID-19. Therefore, parts of your face that come in contact with the KN95 should be free of significant facial hair.

  • If you wear glasses and find fogging to be a nuisance, wash the lenses with soapy water and shake off the excess before putting on your mask (wipe off nose piece to minimize skin irritation).

How should I care for and store my KN95

Please DO NOT attempt to wash your KN95. With proper care, your KN95 should be reusable for an extended period of time.
To keep your KN95 clean between uses, store your mask in a safe location that other people cannot access and where it will not get wet or be subject to direct sunlight or excessive heat. A dry paper bag works well for storing your KN95.

When should I discard my KN95?

You should replace your KN95 when it:

  • Becomes soiled

  • No longer covers the nose and mouth

  • Has stretched out or damaged ties or straps

  • Cannot stay on the face<

  • Has holes or tears in the fabric

A KN95 may be disposed of in the normal trash.

What other actions should I take if I wear a KN95?

Even if you wear a KN95, you should still: 

  • Get the COVID-19 vaccine if you have not already done so. The vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your family, friends, classmates, and co-workers from COVID-19.

  • Stay home if you are sick or have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, and call the UMD Heal Line.

  • Practice physical distancing when feasible.

  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.