There is often a lot of confusion when speaking of respiratory face masks (FFP1/2/3, KN95/99, IIR type, non-medical and etc...) and for this reason we decided to dive into the subject and share some knowledge with you!
First of all, as you might know already, not all masks are the same. In fact, they can often look identical while offering totally different grades of protection.
To make it simple, we made a quick list of the most common classifications of face masks. The 2 main ones being Respirators and Surgical Masks.
Respirators are classified based on filtration during inhalation (from the outside to the inside) and we have:
- FFPs: masks that passed the EU's FFP (Filtering FacePiece) standards and are classified into 3 groups:
- FFP1 - Filtering at least 80% of incoming airborne particles
- FFP2 - Filtering at least 94% of incoming airborne particles
- FFP3 - Filtering at least 99% of incoming airborne particles
- N95: passed the American standards and filter at least 95% of incoming airborne particles.
- KN95: passed the Chinese standards and filter at least 95% of incoming airborne particles.
(Both N95 & KN95 Masks comply with the European Standard FFP2.)
Please note that respirators are not advised to be used for over 8 hours consecutively. Change your masks frequently for better efficiency and protection.
Surgical Masks are classified based on filtration during exhalation (from the inside to the outside) and are classified as follows:
- Type I offers a bacterial filtration of above 95%
- Type II offers a bacterial filtration of above 98%
- Type R is an additional mark that can be given to Type I & II surgical masks after being approved as fluid resistant. The American equivalent of this certification is called Level 2 fluid resistance.
(Type II R is therefore to be considered as the safest surgical mask from the list.)
Please note that surgical masks are not advised to be used for over 3/4 hours consecutively. Change your masks frequently for better efficiency and protection.
Masks in general can be of 2 different grades based on their cleanness levels:
- Medical Grade Masks have a specific cleanness level before their usage, which is defined by the amount of sustainable microorganisms that are to be detected on the mask (max. 30 UFC/tested gr). In most cases, the Medical Grade is mandatory to qualify a product as PPE.
- Non-Medical (or Civil) Grade Masks simply do not meet the Medical Grade required cleanness procedure/standards.
Also note that all PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) require CE marks to be sold in EU & UK. The CE marking is mandatory and represents a manufacturer's declaration that their products comply with the EU's New Approach Directives.
All our PPE are officially CE marked by an authorized CE agency and therefore comply with EU's legal requirements.
Respiratory masks and any other PPE that are being sold without these certifications are to be considered illegal and might not protect you the way they should.
PS: What gives masks the capacity to filter airborne particles so particularly well is the fact that they are made with melt blown material; a material used specifically for filtering purposes.
Beware of sellers not specifying this characteristic in their product description; Masks without this material might look identical to regular ones, but have by far less filtering capacities and are therefore to be considered "scams", since they also cost much less to produce but are usually sold for the full price.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT ALL OF OUR PRODUCTS' CERTIFICATIONS & SPECIFICATIONS HERE!