Protection against infection: The right mouth-nose masks make it more difficult to become infected with COVID-19

FFP2 and KN95 meet the highest standards

Every single measure to contain the COVID 19 pandemic has its justification in terms of infection control. Even each mouth-nose protection plays its own role. However, there are strong differences in effectiveness. Community or surgical face masks do not protect oneself, but "only" our fellow human beings from, for example, infection with COVID-19. FFP2 and KN95 masks, on the other hand, also protect the wearer. But what is the difference between the two variants?

First things first: a KN95 mouth-nose mask is very similar to an FFP2 mask in its effectiveness. The main difference between the two mask types is in their designation and origin. The KN95 mask comes from China and meets the standards there. For comparison, here are some examples: Corresponding masks from the USA bear the designation N95, in New Zealand or Australia the masks correspond to P2, in Japan DS2 and masks from Canada bear the somewhat more complicated standard Z94.4-11. They are all comparable in their type and effectiveness, which is subject to precise guidelines and tests. The name of the mask is therefore issued by its respective certification body, is identical to the standard to which it has been tested, and indicates the country of origin.


Particle filtration

What the masks have in common is that they all filter around 95% of the particles in the air that are larger than 0.3 µm - such as droplets or mucus that are released when you cough. This also explains the number 95 in the name of the KN95 mask. Incidentally, a slightly lower filtering performance of 92% is prescribed for FFP2 masks.


What to look for when using KN95 masks

It is recommended not to wear the mask for more than 8 hours at a time - or until it is soaked through. In the colder months, the warm breath that collects and condenses in the mask during a long walk is often sufficient for this. Once the KN95 mask is soaked, it may no longer provide sufficient protection against viruses such as the current coronavirus.

To ensure full protection, the mask must fit properly. If the mask is too loose, the ear loops can be stretched over the thumb and forefinger and turned forward 180 degrees. In this way, the ear loops cross in front of the ear and become shorter. A knot in the loops behind the ear reinforces this effect. The nose clip should also be adjusted to fit not only the bridge of the nose but also the eye sockets. Just press it on tightly! There must be no air leakage at any point. Where air with potentially virus-laden aerosols can escape, it can also penetrate the mask and, in the worst case, trigger an infection.

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