A guide to FFP2 and FFP3 respirator safety
Another option when searching for a higher level of protection is to wear a respirator mask. There are a number of these to choose from, but we recommend that you choose either an FFP2 or FFP3 mask.
What do they look like?
You can identify one of these masks by their domed shape not dissimilar to a coffee-filter, they are usually white and foldable. Some are fitted with a valve that can make breathing more comfortable and reduce the fogging of glasses or goggles. They should fit snugly on the face in order to provide optimum protection from aerosols/ particles and be changed regularly.
How do I know they are safe?
Both masks are tested against the European standard EN 149:2001+A1:2009 with the FFP2 offering at least 94% filtration and 98% for the FFP3. The world standards can be found here:
|Requirements and world standards||FFP2|
|Assigned Protection Factor||10||20|
|Filter efficiency||94% (95 I/min)||99% (95 I/min)|
|Test agent used||NaCI and paraffin oil||NaCI and paraffin oil|
|Total inward leakage||8%||2%|
|Inhalation resistance||240 Pa (95 I/min)||300 Pa (95 I/min)|
|Exhalation resistance||300 Pa (160 I/min)||300 Pa (160 I/min)|
FFP3 face masks are the most effective 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 fit 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.
Featured FFP3 masks
Respirator masks that have passed the quality standards will have a CE mark printed onto the mask’s surface with a four-digit number of the notified body (the company that carried out the certification), this is to enable the wearer to identify that the product is safe and efficient to use.
FFP2 face masks are the equivalent of N95 face masks, which meet the guidelines from 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 are not shaped to your face but are simply held in place by the elastic earloop and have a typical lifespan of 3-8 hours depending on environmental factors.
What are they used for?
When fitted correctly the FFP2/FFP3 masks can help to protect you and others from an array of substances including plaster dust, concrete, pollen and viruses. Due to this they are used in a variety of settings from construction and agriculture to healthcare.