3M has been one of biggest medical masks producer in China. It produces a series of N95 respirators that suit for a variety of different purpose. Alternative to 3M, there are a number Chinese manufacturers producing KN95 respirators with equal performance as the N95 products.
If you have been sourcing KN95 respirators from China, the most probable case is that you will be presented with a Standard KN95 respirator priced at around USD 1.60-2.20 / piece. On occasional cases, you may also come across Surgical KN95 respirators which are usually priced at around USD 3.00-4.00 / pc (the prices mentioned here are based on our market research in early April 2020 and may have fluctuated drastically by today). This naturally leaves you wondering what their differences are, and you definitely want to make sure only the right products will be given to the right users.
Briefly, these two types of respirators are manufactured under two different Chinese national standards (GB2626-2006 vs. GB19083-2010) and are supposed to be used for different purpose. Details are compared in below table for you:
*Test method and specification: Spray 2 mL of synthesis blood at 10.7 kPa (80 mmHg) onto the outer surface of the respirator, and no permeation shall be observed on the inner side of the respirator.
The surgical KN95 is specifically designed for a risky surgery operation setting so it comes with certain resistance against high pressure stream of bodily fluids, while the standard KN95 does not come with that feature, and shall NOT be used in a surgery room. In China, the surgical KN95 is considered as a “medical product”, while the standard KN95 considered as a “general PPE”. This is very similar to the difference between a Standard N95 and a Surgical N95.
A great reference material about this topic can be found on 3M’s website:
CDC’s Suggestion on Use of These Two Types of Respirators:
Quote from CDC: “In times of shortage, only HCP who are working in a sterile field or who may be exposed to high-velocity splashes, sprays, or splatters of blood or body fluids should be provided these respirators. Other HCP can use standard N95 (KN95 in our case) respirators. If surgical N95 respirators are not available, and there is a risk that the worker may be exposed to high velocity splashes, sprays, or splatters of blood or body fluids, then a faceshield should be worn over the standard N95 respirator.”