I get requests for these alot and not always, but often the request is based on old, misleading or wrong information.
For example ask yourself this question:
Would YOU buy an inferior Chinese knockoff dust mask at a higher price if an American made, NIOSH approved N95 were available at a lower price?
See what I mean. KN95 are still selling for two reasons:
IGNORANCE - the consumer either does NOT know that better alternatives exist OR the consumer thinks that it's still impossible to get good American made, NIOSH rated masks like it was last year.
DESPERATION or MARKETING - in an effort to make a lot of quick cash, the American market was flooded last year with these inferior quality masks. Now US and Chinese businesses are desperate to dump these masks as quickly as possible because with the vaccine they see the market for these inferior items tanking.
Why is the Market tanking? Well besides the fact that the cases of Covid are starting to go down and that we can see light at the end of the mask-wearing tunnel...we won't be wearing these masks forever...there's another more important reason:
Less expensive, superior quality, American made, NIOSH approved N95 filtration masks are now readily available. Manufacturing has turned the tide and no American consumer or business or healthcare professional need to settle for the KN95 imitation mask.
Why do you think the name is so similar to N95 with just a K in front of it when this mask is NOTHING like the genuine article? Because it sounds like it's the real thing. You know kind of like that Roldex watch your uncle bought while on vacation in New York City.
So what is the difference between an N95 built to American NIOSH standards and the KN95 dust mask?
Well although the KN95 loves to tell us that it uses the same level of filtration that the N95 does...95% efficient and .03 micron particles...the comparison ends right there.
When it comes to respiratory protection it's not just the filter media that matters. Much more important by far is the FIT. Otherwise you could put a thick coffee filter or a piece of your car's air filter over your mouth and be fine. But if air leaks into or out of the side of a 'dust mask' quite easily, who cares how good the filter media is?
One reason why opinions widely vary on the KN95 masks...many people use them and like them...is because they do not need to conform to a standard in order to have the KN95 label on them. So there may actually be some that are much better than others. You just don't always know which one you are getting. NIOSH has not approved any. OSHA does not recommend any.
N95 dust masks or disposable respirators as OSHA labels them are true respiratory protection because they pass the NIOSH standard which includes besides just what filter media is used a rigorous fit test standard which includes two head straps and certain shape requirements.
I'm not saying that everyone NEEDS an N95 mask to protect against Covid. CDC recommends that we save these for healthcare professionals. However, if you're going to invest money in the N95 knockoff, why not get the real thing?
A company today can invest less money into buying real N95 dust mask without a valve and have less concern about their future investment losing value when Covid is behind us. Why? Because any rated, NIOSH approved, disposable respirator like an N95, N99 or N100 can be used in many working situations that require rated respiratory protection.
No company can use a KN95 for silica dust protection or sanding hard woods, etc. No hospital can use a KN95 for true virus protection long term. We only used them last year as an emergency measure to have something on our faces when N95's were in short supply. That is no longer the case.
And in the future...once concerns over Covid subside...these Chinese knockoff KN95 masks will have NO use whatsoever in business or in healthcare. You will not be able to use them to satisfy respiratory standards in the workplace. But if you buy a box of genuine N95 respirators now intending to use them for Covid and other workplace concerns and find that you have some leftover after the need for mask wearing is over, then you still have a valuable, usable product.
Your inventory is good and even when there is a 5 year expiration date on a box, it is not because the filter media is no longer effective; it's there because the elastic headbands can wear out with age. I recognition of this the CDC allowed the use of expired N95's in hospitals in 2020 to help with the shortage.
That's why as a safety store and a sales professional I do not stock or sell KN95 masks. It's not elitism or snobbery. It's just plain old common sense.