Protective masks: Guide to the different types

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L’WHO (World Health Organization) recognizes three types of masks suitable for use in limiting the propagation from coronavirus pandemic. These are the medical masks also called surgical masks, from respirators with different levels of performance and finally non-medical masks Where cloth masks. It is then necessary to determine the characteristics of each of these types for cope with the situation as well as possible.

Surgical masks

One surgical mask, or anti-projection mask, hygienic or three-fold is a disposable respiratory mask made for limit the spread of germs (bacteria, viruses). It retains the respiratory droplets. The contamination around the wearer of the mask is then significantly restricted. The mask only remains in effect for a few hours and then must be discarded and replaced.

This type of mask is, most of the time, worn by health professionals during the surgical interventions for avoid infection of patients. It can be worn to protect against the Covid-19 pandemic even if it is not its primary use. These medical devices are governed by the European standard ISO EN 14683. This catalog 4 types classified according to:

– L’bacterial filtration efficiency (EFB) in the direction of exhalation only. With the type I (95% type II (EFB > 98%).
– The splash resistance index R if so, no clue otherwise.

For example, a IIR mask filter over 98% of bacteria and is splash resistant. The surgical mask is not a filter respirator and cannot be certified as such. We must then turn to protective masks said FFP.

FFP masks

One FFP protective mask (Ffilter FacePiece, translatable by filtering facepiece) is a respiratory protection device disposable filtering to protect against particles and various airborne viruses. This individual protection equipment is used by the nursing staff to protect yourself from contaminations, but also by exposed professionals to fine particles (sawdust, asbestos and others). This type of mask covers menton, nose and stuffy.

Unlike the surgical mask, the mask FFP perfectly fitted on the face protects its wearer againstinhalation of infectious agents or from microparticles. Models with valve allow a exhalation with less effort, most limit efficiency from fence between the carrier and theoutside. the masque FFP answer the standard EN 149 which defines three classes d’filtration efficiency :

FFP1 : The mask filters at least 78% of particles suspended in the air. the leakage rate to inspiration is less than 22%. This type is mainly used as anti dust.
FFP2 : The mask filters at least 92% of particles in the air. the leakage rate to inspiration is less than 8%. This mask is effective against virus such those of the flu, l’influenzavirus B, the Avian Flu, the coronavirus, the yersinia pestis, or the mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is also suitable for the uses of FFP1.
FFP3 : The mask filters at least 98% of particles in the air. the leakage rate to inspiration is less than 2%. It prevents the penetration of very fine particles (asbestos, ceramic). It is also useful for medical procedures which generate aerosols (endotracheal intubation, bronchoscopy, tracheotomy). It also responds to the uses of masks FFP1 and FFP2.

Barrier masks

It’s about cloth mask for use by grand public. It’s a filtering non-medical mask made with washable textile and reusable. It brings, in addition to barrier gestures, a hygienic protection and sanitary to carrier and his entourage against the transmission of Infectious diseases or the air pollution.

To face the health crisis, l’AFNOR has since set up mars 2020 a normalization fabric masks. The barrier masks are distributed among those not intended for professionals and filling the minimum requirements from standards, and those for non-medical professionals. These are defined by two categories :

Category I for professionals in contact with the public (gendarmerie, police, store checkout, food). This category filters at least 90% of 3 micron particles.
Category II to protect professionals without contact with the public. This category filters at least 70% of these particles.

Since January 27, 2021, only the masks of category 1 are accepted. These masks can also be used by the grand public. All these masks must carry the logo “guaranteed filtration – tested X washes” on the packaging or the leaflet. The so-called masks “homemade” that are made by individuals can also serve as barrier masks and follow the AFNOR specifications.

the lavage of these masks must not risk the degradation Where reduce filtering efficiency. the maximum number of washes must be respected. Washing should be done in machine with a suitable laundry to the fabric and a cycle at least 30 minutes at 60 °C.

According to your professional needs, you will thus be led to direct you towards the surgical masks (for the medical sector in particular), FFP masks for more specific protection or towards barrier masks for the grand public and certain professional sectors (service, sales, food). It is essential to choose well and of determine in which cases to adopt it for to protect yourself and protect his entourage.