Surgical masks, consumer masks, 3-ply masks, FFP2 NR masks: it’s easy to get lost in all these names. So which respirator mask is right for which purpose, for which level of protection? We’ll help you to see more clearly and tell you all about the specificities of the FFP2 NR mask.
The general public mask
This term refers to masks made of fabric, mostly washable and reusable, manufactured industrially. Homemade masks do not provide any measurable protection.
Consumer masks provide a minimum filtration of 70% to 90% of particles (droplets, bacteria, dust, etc.) of 3 microns (µ) or micrometers (µm), i.e. 0.003 millimetres. When you put it like that, it sounds tiny, but while a bacterium measures on average 1 to 2 micrometres, a virus is a hundred times smaller. It should be noted, however, that it does not travel alone in the air but is “carried” by aerosols or droplets emitted by a person who breathes, speaks, sneezes or coughs.
Consumer masks are for routine use outside the health system. They were used as an emergency solution at the beginning of the Covid-19 epidemic, during the shortage of surgical and FFP2 NR masks.
The surgical mask
A disposable surgical mask, or 3-ply mask, is a medical device. This means that like a syringe, prosthesis, staple, etc., it meets compliance standards and can be used in a medical and professional environment. It can be worn for up to 4 hours.
The filtering capacity of the mask is provided by the non-woven filter medium (meltblown).
- The type I mask has a bacterial filtration efficiency of at least 95% of an average aerosol size of 3 µm.
- Type II filters at least 98% of the same bacterial aerosol.
- Type IIR has the same performance and is additionally resistant to splashes on the mask.
A surgical mask prevents the wearer from spraying droplets onto the surrounding area and also protects the wearer from droplets emitted by another person opposite.
It is interesting to note that quality masks filter a wide spectrum of particles, well above the norm. The filtration range is from 0.5 to 3 micrometers.
The FFP2 NR mask
FFP stands for “Filtering Facepiece Particles” and is a family of PPE. And like all PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), FFP masks comply with regulations specific to the professional environment and different from those of surgical masks. In other words, they are not in the same category. It can be worn for up to 8 hours continuously.
Thus, in the FFP family, I ask for
- the FFP1 mask: it filters at least 80% of aerosols with an average size ranging from 0.06 to 0.45 µm depending on the aerosol tested (liquid or solid)
- FFP2 NR mask: filters at least 94% of aerosols of the same size.
- FFP3 masks: filter at least 99% of the same size aerosols.
The European standard requires that FFP masks filter both solid aerosols (such as dust) and liquid aerosols (such as airborne sputum).
The tighter a mask is, the less breathable it is, which is the logical counterpart.
Klap has chosen to manufacture “duckbill” type FFP2 NR filtering half-masks with elastics held behind the head and not behind the ears. This model of FFP2 NR mask offers the best compromise between optimal filtration and sealing coupled with good breathability. Because there are different face shapes, Klap has also chosen to develop two sizes of FFP2 NR to ensure a perfect fit for the wearer. These are essential criteria for effective health protection in the workplace.
You can therefore see that each type of mask corresponds to one or more specific uses (everyday life, medical environment, professional environment) depending on the level of protection required. Make your choice.