COVID-19: A guide to face masks

On 28 April, Nicola Sturgeon mentioned there may be 'some benefit' in wearing a cloth face covering in places where social distancing was tricky. But how do we know what masks are suitable for different environments? Here’s couple of guide to face masks... Get more information regarding China FFP2 mask

Forms of face masks

The very first step in identifying the face mask to match your specifications should be to know the diverse forms. Medical face masks are broken down into 2 main categories; surgical masks and respirators. Listed below are some forms of masks you might have heard of:

Kind I Face Mask

Sort I R Face Mask

Kind II Face Mask

Kind II R Face Mask

FFP2 Face Mask

FFP3 Face Mask

N95 Face Mask

What's the difference in between Sort I and Sort II Masks?

Kind I, and Variety I R face masks possess a BFE (bacterial filtration efficiency) of 95%, whereas Type II and Type II R face masks have a BFE of 98%. The breathing resistance, and splash resistance for Form I R and Kind II R masks, are precisely exactly the same.

Kind I, I R, II and II R face masks are medical masks tested in the path of exhalation (inside to outdoors) and take into account the efficiency of bacterial filtration. Surgical masks of this type quit the wearer from infecting the surrounding environment. They are not powerful at defending the wearer from airbourne diseases like coronavirus.

What is a Form II Face Mask?

Variety II face masks (EN14683) are medical face masks produced up of a protective 3 ply construction that prevents significant particles from reaching the patient or operating surfaces, even so they're not helpful when blood or bodily fluids are present.

Traits of Kind II face masks involve:

Pleat style with ear loops or ties

Protective three-layer construction

Accessible within a range of colours and designs.

What's a Variety IIR Face Mask?

Sort IIR face masks EN14683 are medical face masks made up of a 4 ply construction that prevents large particles from reaching the patient or operating surfaces. Type IIR Face masks include a splash resistant layer to guard against blood along with other bodily fluids. Sort IIR face masks are tested in the path of exhalation (inside to outside) and take into account the efficiency of bacterial filtration.

Traits of Form IIR face masks contain:

Pleat style with ear loops or ties

Protective four-layer building

Available inside a wide variety of colours and styles

Splash resistant layer against bodily fluids.

Form I, Form IR, Form II and Type IIR masks are for use in protecting other individuals from the wearer transmitting infection.

What’s the difference in between FFP2 and FFP3 Face Masks?

FFP2 & FFP3 Face Masks are European classes of respirators, tested on the path of inspiration (outside to inside) and take into account leakage to the face and filtration efficiency.

FFP2 face masks are the equivalent of N95 face masks, which meet the guidelines in the World Health Organisation for protection against Covid-19. FFP2 masks have a minimum of 94% filtration percentage and a maximum of 8% leakage to the inside. These masks usually are not shaped to your face but are simply held in place by the elastic earloop and possess a typical lifespan of 3-8 hours depending on environmental factors.

FFP3 face masks are the most powerful at filtration, with a minimum filtration of 99% and a maximum leakage of 2% to the inside. These masks are better shaped to your face for a more snug match and typically have a valve to help breathe as the filtration material is much thicker. The valve also reduces the build up of moisture, lengthening the lifespan of the mask. FFP3 masks are typically used for handling asbestos.

FFP2, FFP3, N95 and also other respirator masks are efficient at defending the wearer from viral transmission.

It should be noted that N95 masks can not be officially legally recommended for use in Europe although inside the current situation with PPE shortages in practice a a lot more flexible approach seems to be being taken.

What are the US and European Standards for face masks?

Medical masks and respirators undergo various standards and regulations, dependent on the geographical area to which they're manufactured.

Medical masks in Europe must comply with the European standard EN 14683, which have 3 levels of bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE1, BFE2, Sort R). In the US medical masks must comply with ASTM standards, which have three levels of protection (from low risk of exposure to fluids to high risk of exposure to fluids).

Respirators in Europe must meet European standard EN 149: 2001, which includes 3 classes of disposable particulate respirators (FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3). Inside the US respirators must comply with NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) standards.

Within this standard, there are several classes of respirators depending on the degree of oil resistance:

Class N: no oil resistance. A distinction is made between N95, N99 and N100. The number after the letter indicates the percentage of filtration of suspended particles.

Class R: mask resistant to oil for up to eight hours. Right here again, a distinction is made among R95, R99 and R100.

Class P: a completely oil-resistant mask. There are also P95, P99 and P100.


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