Which KN95 respirator is the best for me to buy?

I’ve written extensively about fake or counterfeit respirators from China. Let me clarify one important point: NOT ALL CHINESE RESPIRATORS ARE FAKE OR POOR IN QUALITY. We have even seen 3M respirators that are counterfeits arriving in the USA. The number one question that I get asked is “where can I find the best quality respirators?” The second most asked question is “can you tell me if my KN95 mask is fake?” 

healthcare front line

Healthcare Front Line workers:

Back in March, CDC stated that it “does not recommend that the general public wear N95 respirators to protect themselves from respiratory diseases. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.” This made sense for front line workers in the ICU, ED, COVID floors, first responders, and more. But now, as the states open up, I’m getting more and more requests from dentists, ENT doctors, other primary care physicians, physical therapists, and more. Although their likelihood of exposure is lower than workers to treat patients who are actively COVID-19 positive, they are at a higher risk due to their profession. 

Obviously, a 3M 1860 surgical respirator is your first choice. Your second choice would be a NIOSH N95 that you will find on the CDC list. The trick is finding one that is not a counterfeit. You’ve already heard about the fake Dasheng and Makrite respirators. Your best chance of avoiding a fake respirator is to verify that your supplier is direct from the factory or from their authorized distributor. 

As for KN95, it’s NOT an urban myth that there are KN95s with head wraps. Headwrap elastic respirators are important as they offer a tighter seal and better protection. 3M 9502 is a KN95 with a headwrap, but good luck getting your hands on 3M during this crazy time. Other manufactures like Honeywell, also offers headwraps like the Honeywell H801 KN95. I’ve also been active in asking KN95 producers to manufacture KN95 with headwrap elastic like I did with Fabric Medical and their KN95. 

Your last resort is to use KN95 with earloops found on FDA Appendix A. However, this FDA list is a dynamic list and you should routinely check to make sure that your respirator is still on this list. On May 7th, the FDA had a massive house cleaning with bad manufactures and KN95 that were improperly placed on this list and lost their FDA authorization. Our recommendation is to use the Appendix A list with the CDC non-NIOSH testing link to find the manufactures who have their respirators tested in the US. I did your homework and as of this publication, here is the list of recommended manufactures from me from FDA Appendix A as they have testing results published by the CDC.

  • Anhui Zhongke Duling Commercial Appliance Co. Ltd M-9501
  • BYD Precision Manufacture Co. Ltd. BYD KN95 Particulate Respirator(Model Number(s): DG3101, DN1102)
  • ESound Medical Device Co., Ltd. 20182140615 Folded
  • Guangdong Zhizhen Biological Medicine Co., Ltd. KN95 Three-Dimensional Protective Face Mask
  • Guangzhou Harley Commodity Company Limited L-103V KN95
  • Guangzhou Nan Qi Xing Non-Woven Co., Ltd. KN-1 Respirator
  • Guangzhou Powecom Labor Insurance Supplies Co., LTD KN95
  • Huizhou Green Communication Equipment Manufacturing Co., Ltd G95200 Particle Filtering Half Mask
  • Jiande Chaomei Daily Chemicals Co. F-Y3-A
  • Jiangsu Yimao Filter Media Co., Ltd 9570K
  • Raxwell Industrial Technology (Shanghai) Co., Ltd RX9501
  • Shanghai Gangkai Purifying Products Co. Ltd. 8022, 8012, 8013
  • Shanghai Yunqing Industrial Co., Ltd. YQD95 KN95
  • Weini Technology Development Co., Ltd FFP2 NR E-300, FFP2 NR E-680, FFP2 NR 952, FFP2 NR F-820, KN95 958, KN95 951
  • Winner Medical Co., Ltd WN-N95FW, WN-N95FGIN
  • Zhongkang Protective Equipment Technology (Guangzhou) Co., Ltd ZK601

other front line workers

Other Front Line Workers:

I get it. I understand that some of you feel that the CDC is de-valuing your life by keeping N95 respirators out of your hands. I hope you understand why the CDC is making this recommendation as many of the front-line healthcare workers are treating actively positive COVID-19 patients in a closed environment. While you may be exposed to a COVID-19 patient, your risk is still than someone who is willing to walk into a room with a burning fire (to use an analogy). So, how can we get you the best protection possible?

As the states open up, I consider other front line workers as people in all industries where they are at moderate risk. These workers include lawyers who work with prisoners (since COVID-19 cases have been spreading in prisons), hair stylists, pharmacists, optometrist, realtor, and more. Here is my recommendation:

  • Find a KN95 with a head wrap. But please be warned that these are typically tight and very uncomfortable. There is a reason that you’ve seen healthcare workers with mask imprints on their faces. 
  • Find a KN95 on the FDA Appendix A or testing done by the CDC


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Want to read more about PPE?

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KN95 Part 2: How to identify suspicious, fake, or misleading marks & certificates with your KN95 respirator mask.

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