What You Should Know About the Surgical and FFP Respiratory Masks
Aerosols and fine dust particles and now viruses are among the most insidious health risks: they are almost invisible in the air we breathe. Face Masks are supposed to protect the user from those health risks, but there are different types of masks for different environments. This blog will give you a quick overview:
Please note that a simple face mask (surgical masks) offers no protection against viruses. Surgical face masks offer protection of the patient against infectious droplets from the respiratory tract of the treating doctor. However, they are not intended for protection against viral infections. This mask is more of a psychological measure: if a doctor and the patient feel healthy, a surgical mask for normal protection as described above is sufficient.👇 FluShields donates 3% of every order you place. You can top, round up or give as much as you fancy at checkout. Our team and our customers like you are proud to have...
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How Does a Breathing Respiratory Mask in the FFP Class Work?
FFP Respirators protect against respirable dust, smoke, liquid mist (aerosol), but also viruses, fungal spores, enzymes or bacteria - but not against steam and gas.
The classification system is divided into three FFP classes, the abbreviation FFP stands for "filtering facepiece". A respirator mask covers the nose and mouth and is made up of various filter materials and the mask itself. Their protective function is standardized throughout Europe according to EN 149: 2001 + A1: 2009 and are also FDA approved as certified masks for the US market. They are referred to as particle-filtering half masks or fine dust masks and are divided into protection classes FFP1, FFP2, and FFP3.
What Do Respirator Masks Protect Against?
Protection classes FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 offer respiratory protection for different concentrations of pollutants and viruses depending on the total leakage and the filtering of particle sizes up to 0.6 μm. The total leakage is caused by the filter passage and leaks on the face and nose.
FFP1 Respirator Mask
Typical applications for an FFP1 mask can be found, for example, in the food industry. Respirator masks of protection class FFP1 are suitable for environments in which neither toxic nor fibrogenic dust and aerosols or viruses are to be expected.
They protect against non-toxic water and oil-based particles, but not against viruses, carcinogenic and radioactive substances, airborne biological agents of risk groups 2 and 3 + enzymes. The total leakage (leakage) is a maximum of 22%, at least 80% of the pollutants are filtered out of the air - and they can be used if the workplace limit value is not exceeded by more than four times. In construction or in the food industry, respirators of class FFP1 are usually sufficient.
FFP2 Respirator Mask
Respirators of protection class FFP2 are suitable for environments in which there are substances that are harmful to health and mutagen, including viruses. They must collect at least 94% of the particles in the air up to a size of 0.6 μm and may be used if the workplace limit value does not exceed 10 times the concentration. Respirators of protection class FFP2 are used, for example, in health environments like hospitals, doctors' offices, and dentistries, but also in the metal industry or in mining. There, workers come into contact with aerosols, mist, and smoking, which in the long term lead to the development of respiratory diseases such as lung cancer and which massively increases the risk of secondary diseases such as active pulmonary tuberculosis.
FFP3 Respirator Mask
When dealing with carcinogenic, radioactive substances and pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and fungal spores, the use of an FFP3 mask is recommended. The total leakage here may not exceed 5%.
Respirators of protection class FFP3 offer the greatest possible protection against breathing air pollution. With a total leakage of up to 5% and required protection of at least 99% against particles up to a size of 0.6 μm, they are able to filter toxic, carcinogenic and radioactive particles.
How long Can a FFP Respirator Mask being used?
That depends on various factors. According to the respiratory protection standard EN 149, a mask can be used over an 8-hour shift. However, the standard also provides for reusable FFP masks whose sealing lip can be cleaned and disinfected. These masks are marked with "R" for "reusable".
When used against the coronavirus, reusability has not been clearly clarified due to the high risk potential. Like other objects and surfaces, the inside of the respirator mask can be contaminated with viruses when it is removed and replaced. This can be prevented by taking suitable measures and replacing masks after each shift or daily. Instructions in the mask package show users how to wear the masks and the correct disposal of masks.
The information provided above is non-binding information. The specified protection classes for the various areas of application are minimum requirements and are only for guidance. It is the responsibility of the respective user to check before use whether the respirator meets the requirements regarding hazardous substances and concentrations.