It should come as no surprise that there is a great amount of misinformation in today's world. Conspiracy theories abound, spreading both misinformation and disinformation on social media, news outlets, and even from the various governments. This makes it very difficult to decipher what is real and what is not. The only salvation is to perform the proper research in an attempt to educate yourself and become more knowledgeable about the world around you.
Some information is factual, but it is difficult to know what information is incorrect. It is even more difficult to know whether the incorrect information is misinformation or disinformation. Misinformation is false information that is spread, regardless of whether there is intent to mislead. Or, worse yet, the incoming information may be disinformation, which is deliberately misleading or biased information; manipulated narrative or facts; propaganda.
In this article, we can only present the factual information and as the reader, you can decide for yourself whether the information you have received is misinformation or disinformation.
N95 and KN95 Face Masks
The N95 or KN95 face masks are rated to capture 95% of particles down to 0.3 micron or 300 nanometers. This means that 5% of particles that are 0.3 microns in size still get through the N95 or Kn95 face masks. (Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration). It also means that 100% of particles that are smaller than 0.3 microns will pass through the face masks rendering the masks useless.
N95 face masks are examples of personal protective equipment, or PPE, that are used to protect the wearer from airborne particles and liquid contaminating the face.
They are regulated by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) and NIOSH (U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health). The N is for “Not resistant to oil” and the 95 refers to the minimal is efficiency level at 0.3 microns (of which is it 95% efficient).
Similarly, KN95 masks are also a form of PPE used to protect the wearer from similar hazards though they are not regulated by NIOSH. These masks are often identical to N95 masks and are the “N95 equivalent” for medical usage in China.
In the US, KN95 masks are primarily used in industrial settings and offer the same filtration as N95 face masks. In fact, these masks are often produced from the same assembly line as N95 masks however are not sent for NIOSH regulation.
Due to the downsizing of the budget since 2016 the stockpile of N95 masks in the U.S. has been continuously reduced, despite warnings from government health officials that it could create a health problem. On April 3, 2020, three months after the Corvid-19 virus was identified, the FDA approved the use of KN95 masks for healthcare professionals to make up for the shortfall of face masks. However, what the FDA did not mention was that neither the N95 or KN95 face masks were actually ineffective against Corvid-19.
HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air and is a filtration rating that captures microbes, dust, and particulates. The U.S. Department of Energy first termed HEPA as a filtering specification for suppliers of filtration products based on how effective they were at particle removal. However, the HEPA air purifiers are still only 99.97% effective at 0.3 Micron and are only slightly more efficient than face masks.
HEPA filters consist of a complicated mix of filaments and fibers that carry a static charge which lures various microbes and particles larger than 0.3 microns like a magnet. While the particles travel through the air filtration system, they’re captured and retained within the filter.
Micron Size of the COVID-19 Virus
The COVID-19 virus ranges in size from approximately 0.62 Micron to 0.125 Micron or 62 to 125 nanometers in diameter. (Source: National Library of Medicine). This means that the virus is at a minimum 2.4 times smaller than the openings on the N95 and KN95 mask, and could easily pass through the masks, rendering them useless for the stated intention. And, you need to be aware that viruses only require a small amount to enter your body in order to start an infection. Over time, with enough volume or use, virus particles will eventually separate and penetrate the filter due to their sub-micron size.
However, the mask can block other biological aerosols, such as those created from coughing and sneezing, which range from 0.3 to 0.5 microns. While the virus can be expelled from a person who is carrying the virus the face masks will only block the liquids from the coughing and sneezing the masks and do not stop the Corvid-19 virus particles.
Additionally, an interesting scientific effect occurs known as Brownian Motion which causes particles in certain media states (such as fluid) to bounce around and pass through any opening larger than 0.125 microns.
When we put all of this together, we find that even the best of face masks being worn by healthcare workers are ineffective against Corvid-19. And, while the face mask may prevent 95% of other liquid particulates from passing through the face mask, not only will the mask not block the Corvid-19 virus particulates, when the wearer inhales they are forcing the virus to pass through the mask and enter the mouth and nose.
No system has been proven to filter COVID-19 yet—as it is a new virus. But there is research supporting some ability to filter other common airborne viruses as long as the infected air is captured by the system.