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The topic of face masks seems to have hit most households all over the world in recent weeks; should we buy one? Which one do we need? Which masks can help protect us from Covid19? Here’s a short guide to explain the differences in the masks available.

FFP stands for Filtering half Face Masks, each mask conforms to the EU regulation EN 149: 2001 the masks are then split into 3 categories determined by their protection level: FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3. Masks are worn to protect our lungs from anything hazardous in the air, this could be from particles and dust, to aerosols and smoke. 

You will notice that each mask has a different APF and OEL- these are the protection limits of the masks. 

OEL (Occupational Exposure Limit value) refers to the amount of toxic substance that is allowed in air within a workplace.

The APF (Assigned Protection Factor) indicates the factor by which the wearer is protected from hazardous substances. For example a mask with an APF of 4 will reduce the hazard of the wearer breathing in toxic substances by 4 times. 

 

FFP1 Mask

The FFP1 is the most basic of masks. They are usually used to protect during DIY tasks such as sanding, for example. This mask can protect against non-toxic substances such as brick dust, cement, lime stone, and pollen but it won’t be enough protection if the substance is toxic - a higher protection would be needed.

  • 4 X APF
  • 4 X OEL

 FFP 1 Mask

 

FFP2 Mask (n95)

The FFP2 mask offers more protection than the FFP1. It is the EU equivalent of the US N95 standard and recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) during the outbreaks or SARS, corona virus and avian flu. It offers protection from deleterious substances in the air such as lead dust, as well as aerosols, smoke, it is therefore a popular mask in mining and metal industries, agriculture, and is the go-to mask for healthcare professionals to protect against influenza. 

  • 10 X APF
  • 12 X OEL

 

 

FFP3 Mask

The FFP3 offers the highest protection from breathing in hazardous substances in the environment. The mask can protect from a variety of toxins, such as asbestos, bacteria, viruses and are often used by healthcare professionals when handling hazardous pharmaceutical chemicals.

  • 20 X APF
  • 50 X OEL

 FFP3 N95

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