What is the difference between FFP1, FFP2 & FFP3 masks?

November 09, 2020


What is the difference between FFP1, FFP2 & FFP3 masks?
FFP1 mask filters 80% of the particles. FFP1 masks usually have yellow plastic band
FFP2 mask filters 94% of the particles. FFP2 masks can protect from influenza, SARS, coronavirus, pneumonia and tuberculosis. It usually has blue or white elastic band
FFP3 mask filters approximately 98% of the particles. They are used by healthcare workers. Breathing with FFP3 mask on, is quite difficult

The current situation of a pandemic has led people to be more and more intrigued about the type of face mask that they should put on. The rising awareness of protecting oneself from a deadly virus has risen the curiosity levels of the masses regarding the various protective equipment available.

 

What does FFP abbreviation mean?

 

One of the most vital components of a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a FFP mask. Filtering Facepiece (FFP) masks are also called respirators or respiratory protection masks. These masks are wore in such a way that the nose, mouth and chin are covered. There are various bodies responsible for standardizing the FFP masks. The most commonly followed standard is EN 149. The EN 149 has standardized 3 types of masks: FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3.


Before going into the details of the masks, it is necessary to know the types and sizes of particles that are commonly present in our surroundings. These particles are measured in microns. Coarse particles like dust, pesticides, hair, pollen are approximately 100 microns in diameter. Aerosols, Bacteria, Ashes, Tobacco Smoke, Diesel & Combustion particles follow next in a range of 1 to 0.1 microns. The real challenge is filtering the particles smaller than 0.1 microns. These are the viruses and gaseous contaminants that can be harmful for the human body. The corona virus particle ranges from 0.06 microns to 0.14 microns.

 

FFP1 Mask


This type of mask filters approximately 80% of the particles. It protects against the larger coarse particles that are less harmful. These are used as dust masks. Dust can cause various diseases like silicosis, asbestosis, aluminosis, bronchitis, etc. These masks are typically identified by a yellow elastic band.

 

FP2 Mask


This type of mask filters approximately 94% of the particles. These masks are used by carpenters, farmers, workers on construction sites, factory workers, etc. Particulate matter from hazardous chemicals can be filtered by this mask. In serves as a protector against viruses of avian influenza, SARS with Coronavirus, pneumonia and tuberculosis. These asks are identified typically by a blue or white elastic band. In March 2020, Dutch researchers proved that the FFP2 mask can be reused thrice when sterilized with hydrogen peroxide.

 

The corresponding mask used and certified by the United States National Institute for Occasional Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the N95 mask that has a filtration rate of 95%. In the United States, healthcare professionals who are at a risk of encountering patients with COVID-19 are advised to wear these masks. The N95 is only effective in the absence of oil particles.


FFP3 Mask

 

This type of mask filters approximately 98% of the particles. This mask protects against solid and liquid aerosols. It is recommended for those who remain in contact with aerosols for prolonged periods of time. FFP2 and FFP3 masks are those which should be reserved and prioritized for healthcare workers. A mask can be graded as FFP3 only if it is waterproof and the filter is extremely impermeable. Breathing can be difficult while using these masks. They are identified by a red elastic band. Patients with claustrophobia are advised to wear these masks with a ventilation valve present.

 

The above mentioned masks can be chosen based on whether they can be folded or moulded. Folded masks are usually easier to carry. However, in terms of snug fitting, moulded masks are more superior since they replicate the curvature of the face.


There are a few indications on the mask that can help you understand the characteristics of a mask in a better way. These signs should be checked for on the FFP mask boxes before buying them.

 

D - It indicates that the mask has passed the dolomite test, which means that the mask is more resistant against clogging over time.

V - It indicates that the mask has a valve for exhalation. This makes respiration for easy and moisture levels within the mask decreases.

R - It indicates that the mask is reusable.

NR - It indicates that the mask should be used for only one session.

S or L - It indicates that the mask can effectively filter solid (S) or liquid (L) particulate matter.

Before opting for any type of FFP, we recommend you to go through the above mentioned information in detail to see the right fit for you. 

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10 November 2020

 

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