Ready for an N95? Here's how to find a high-quality one that fits you well

submited by
Style Pass
2022-01-15 16:00:09

After months of public health experts urging Americans to start wearing higher quality masks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday updated its mask guidance for consumers. While the agency didn't recommend one type of mask over another, its new guidance emphasizes that N95s and similar high-filtration respirators offer the best protection against COVID-19.

I've spent a fair amount of time over this pandemic researching masks, calling experts who study them – and fielding questions like these from family and friends. It turns out, it's not that hard to find a good mask that's comfortable to wear for hours. Here's my attempt to answer your questions and break it down for you.

These are all high-filtration respirators, made with a material that has an electrostatic charge, which uses the power of static electricity to trap incoming virus particles. When worn correctly, they are designed to filter out around 95% or more of airborne particles. (I say "around" because technically, the "94" in a KF94 indicates it has a 94% filtration efficiency.)

"An N95 is more protective because it has a better face seal in general than a KN95 or a KF94," explains Aaron Collins, a mechanical engineer with a background in aerosols science. He's also known as the Mask Nerd because he's been testing hundreds of masks over the last year and a half. (You can explore a master spreadsheet of his results here.)

Leave a Comment