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What's the difference between N95 and KN95 masks?

This week, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced a new program where KN95 masks will be handed out at various community locations.

AURORA, Colo. — The state and federal governments are trying to help people upgrade to high-quality masks due to the omicron surge.

This week, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced a new program where KN95 masks will be handed out at various community locations. The masks were provided to the state by the federal government.

There’s a significant demand for three highly-suggested types of masks. But there’s also a lot of confusion.

One mask is the KN95, made in China and handed out by the state.

“They’ve got the metal here so it can bridge and shape to your nose really well, so that helps keep other people's air out and yours in. They’ve got the ear loops. Less stretchy than the other ones, but again, that’s supposed to make it more secure,” Burks said.

These masks were given emergency use authorization in 2020 by the Food and Drug Administration.

Then there are the American-made N95 masks. One doctor suggests you buy from a hardware store to avoid counterfeit.

“It is approved by NIOSH, which is our occupational safety government agency," said National Jewish Health Critical Care Physician Ken Lyn-Kew.  "And they’ll say NIOSH N95. They won’t say FDA. If they say FDA or CDC, that’s a good sign that’s it’s counterfeit. And it will have a TC number on it which will tell you when it was approved." 

There’s also a Korean-made KF94, which is not as popular. 

With all three masks, this is the big takeaway.

“If you put the mask on and it doesn’t feel like it's tight to your face and you feel air leaking around it, that’s a good reason to be concerned, because these masks are designed to be tight-fitting,” Lyn-Kew said.

RELATED: Community groups hope Colorado's free mask distribution breaks down health equity barriers

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