As the coronavirus continues to spread throughout Asia and the rest of the world, many people are looking for a face mask, which has been recommended by the WHO as a protective measure. But which one should you buy? We have the details on what the difference is between the most sought-after masks such as FFP1 and FFP2.
FFP1 and FFP2 are different kinds of masks. They offer different levels of protection for the wearer, in short, the higher the protection factor, the better the reduction of airborne contaminants. FFP2 offers the highest level of protection for the user. No respirator is 100% efficient, as there will be leaks around the face seal, around the valve (if applicable) and through filter penetration, so it is important to perform a proper fit test.
FFP1 reduces the user’s exposure to airborne particles by a factor of 4
FFP2 reduces user exposure to airborne particles by a factor of 10
|CLASS||FILTER PENETRATION LIMIT (at 95L/min airflow)||INTERNAL LEAKAGE|
|FFP1||Filters at least 80% of the particles in the air||<22%|
|FFP2||Filters at least 94% of the particles in the air||<8%|
Respirator masks (meaning they are made of a fabric designed to filter air or impurities) are based on a classification system that indicates how much protection they offer.
The first is FFP1, which protects against materials in concentrations up to 4x OEL or 4x APF (assigned protection factor). Because it is the first rung on the ladder (so to speak), they are the most economical option.
The next is FFP2 and they offer more protection than FFP1, in concentrations up to 12x OEL or 10x APF. They are the European equivalent of the N95 respirator masks used worldwide. And this type complies with World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.
In addition to the level of protection offered by each type of mask, there are also some design elements to consider.
1- Without valve
Valveless masks mean that the filtration system is integrated into the fabric and therefore can be lightweight and quite discreet. This can make the mask comfortable to wear, as it is not bulky and does not feel heavy on the face.
2- With valve
The other alternative to a mask without a valve is a mask with a valve. Although this can make the mask a little bulkier and heavier, it allows air to escape from the mask. Valved masks tend to be less sweaty and congested, which can make them more breathable and comfortable to wear.
If you want the closest possible fit, then a molded mask is the way to go. These are designed with the shape of your face in mind and fit comfortably over your nose, mouth and chin.
This can make the mask more effective, as it minimizes the risk of particles entering your respiratory system through the gaps that a looser mask might leave.
Another design element you can choose from is whether you prefer a folded mask. Folded masks are very discreet and easy to transport, and the fabric design is very breathable.
They offer a close fit to the face due to the elastic head straps, however, they do not offer a perfect fit.