NIOSH Approved N95 with Ear Loops
June 16, 2022 9:31 PM   Subscribe

Having recently perused the CDC site on N95s, I see a brief mention within the NIOSH APPPROVAL FAQ that there are NIOSH approved N95 masks with ear loops, but only a few designs. I am skeptical but want to know more about these if they exist.

These are not KN or KF, supposedly they are N95. The CDC declines to name the products or manufacturers, and my Google searches have been fruitless. Can you point me to any specific N95 masks that have ear loops and are NIOSH approved?
posted by happy_cat to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Huh, I was under the impression that all N95s had headbands (and I've actually grown to like them for long wear, like at work!) The NIOSH page does specify that there has to be a "non-removable fastener" for the earloops. Wouldn't that fastener turn the earloops into a headband anyway?

What I picture "earloops with non-removable fasteners" is close to what this site labels N95 masks with "adjustable headbands".

And while researching I also came across "strapless N95" masks, which also seem to be NIOSH-approved.

This mask isn't N95, but it's got earloops with a removable fastener, and from 3M.
posted by invokeuse at 10:20 PM on June 16, 2022

Official N95 does NOT have ear loops, as ear loops do not give a persistent seal. (USA Today)

The "strapless" N95s are for medical use and has a medical adhesive to help it stay on without straps or loops.

Those with Earloops would be KN95s (Chinese "equivalents") or the Korean KF94s.
posted by kschang at 11:18 PM on June 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If they're not able to be easily found, I doubt they're going to be easily purchased and likely to be of lower quality than top-tier US manufacturers like 3M or any of the big Korean companies. My guess is that any earloop N95s have long been discontinued because they fail fit testing (which is required for any industrial or medical use) at dramatically higher rates than headband N95s and companies were not buying them.

Is the NIOSH requirement because it's backed by the US government? Because the N95 filtration standard is mostly equivalent to other respiratory standards, if not worse.

There's also the "Barrier Face Coverings" ASTM F3502-21 standard which allows a wide quality range of respirators but is up front about how well they perform, and allows earloops. Here's a list from the CDC, you can quickly pick out the ones that have very high filtration.
posted by meowzilla at 12:11 AM on June 17, 2022

Best answer: FWIW, the European equivalent of N95 are FFP2 masks, which come with either ear loops or headbands, though ear loops are a little more common.

Supposedly they’re 94% effective compared to the N95’s 95%.
posted by penguin pie at 1:49 AM on June 17, 2022

Best answer: I purchased this 3PE brand N95 last year. The straps unhook and can be reconfigured into ear loops. Apparently, they’re no longer being made, but some are still available.
posted by sageleaf at 2:04 AM on June 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

I was going to recommend the 3PE brand N95, and I'm disappointed to learn that they're not longer being made. I remove the elastics from them and cut them to make ear loops. You have the knot the ends of the elastic otherwise they'll pull out from those yellow clips.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:02 AM on June 17, 2022

Best answer: The approval for those specific N95s was actually removed (Effective Immediately: Voluntary Rescission of Pacific PPE Corporation Approvals) which means that selling them is no longer allowed. I'd get [other certified respirator] instead of trying to look for these.
posted by meowzilla at 1:20 PM on June 17, 2022

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