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What is a filtering half mask?

Filtering half masks are also called FFP masks. The abbreviation stands for Filtering Face Piece. Other terms for filtering half masks are particle-filtering half masks or particle-filtering respiratory protection. In corona times, health experts recommend that all citizens wear FFP2 masks exclusively. In addition to self-protection, they also provide external protection in case the wearer excretes SARS-CoV-2 viruses.

Are you looking for a full face mask, a self-rescuer or other escape equipment? In our range you will find numerous other elements for personal protective equipment!

Types of particle filtering half mask

There are different types of particle filtering half masks. At MedSolut.com we have an extensive range of outstanding quality available for you. Filtering half masks are divided into the categories FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 according to the retention capacity of the particle filter. The higher the number, the better the protection:

  1. Masks in the FFP1 R or NR category are intended for single or multiple use, depending on the type. The R stands for reusable, while NR means not reusable and those masks are therefore not reusable.
  2. Masks in the FFP2 R or NR category are recommended by the Robert Koch Institute for everyday situations to prevent COVID-19 infections and require the minimum distance to be observed when worn.
  3. Masks in the FFP3 R or NR category are characterised by their special protection factor and are therefore also suitable for use in the occupational or medical sector.

The different mask types in detail:

Filtering half mask without exhalation valve

The higher the protection factor of a filtering half mask, the better the filtering effect. At the same time, however, the breathing resistance increases over time. Therefore, when wearing the mask for a longer period of time, limits must be observed to ensure the best possible comfort. However, a mask with an exhalation valve is not suitable for external protection and is therefore not intended for use in the containment of the corona pandemic.

Filtering half mask with exhalation valve

Whether or not an FFP mask is equipped with a valve is independent of the FFP protection level. The valve opens when exhaling, but remains closed when inhaling. Accordingly, the moist and warm breathing air is transferred unfiltered out of the mask.

When inhaling, the filtering capacity of the mask is maintained. The advantage of filtering half masks with an exhalation valve is that a comfortable climate is ensured and it is easier to exhale. However, a mask with an exhalation valve is not suitable for external protection and is therefore not intended for the containment of the corona pandemic.

Filtering half mask FFP1

The FFP1 filtering half mask filters at least 80 per cent of the pollutants in the air we breathe and thus offers a high level of protection against other people as well as ourselves.

Filtering half mask FFP2

The FFP2 filtering half mask selects 94 percent or more of the pollutants contained in the air we breathe, making it an indispensable companion in various everyday and occupational situations.

FFP3 filtering half mask

FFP3 masks can filter out up to 99 percent of pollutants and aerosols from the air you breathe.

You are not quite sure which filtering half mask is the right one for you or your company? Of course, our experts will be happy to help you with words and deeds. We will be happy to take the time to find the right protection for your situation.

Use of particle-filtering half masks

Whether against viruses or other influences, particle-filtering half masks play an essential role in everyday private, professional and corporate life. These are the most important areas of application for filtering half masks:

Use against viruses (such as SARS-CoV-2).

To ensure effective protection against the Corona virus, you need at least an FFP2 mask. This is primarily for self-protection, but also ensures increased protection from others when the distance regulation is observed. Extensive tests are carried out to determine how much aerosol and how many tiny droplets with a size of up to 0.6 micrometres can penetrate the material. This protective function is defined in the DIN EN 149:2009 08 standard.

It states that at least 95 per cent of the particles must be separated out. This is guaranteed by the filter layer inside the mask, which is electrostatically charged. Therefore, larger particles and even smaller, dangerous aerosols are selected from the inhaled and exhaled air.

Other applications

On the one hand, FFP2 masks provide a high level of protection against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. On the other hand, particle-filtering half masks also play an important role in various work processes where, for example, fine dust is generated.

  • FFP1 respirators protect against non-toxic dusts. With a separation efficiency of up to 80 percent, they protect against fine dust from cement, pulp, limestone, pollen and gypsum, among other things.
  • Class 2 protective masks can be used in work areas where hazardous or mutagenic substances are present in the air breathed. Filtering half masks in this category filter at least 94 per cent of the particles in the air, protecting against toxic dusts such as concrete dust, granite, zinc oxide smoke or calcium oxide.
  • Class 3 filtering half masks offer up to 99 per cent filtration efficiency and are ideal for work environments where you are exposed to particularly toxic dusts. Masks in this product category offer protection from toxic dusts of nickel, cobalt, chromium and even mould spores, for example.

Labelling of FFP masks

Certain requirements must be met for respirators to carry the FFP1, FFP2 or FFP3 markings and the CE mark. It is important, for example, that the requirements of DIN EN 149: 2009-08 are met. Among other things, the tight fit and the filter performance play a role in this regard. If all conditions are met, certification according to EU Regulation (EU) 2016 / 425 is possible.

All the particle filtering half masks we have for you in our range are tested by MedSolut and are therefore reliable, safe and indispensable in everyday life as well as in a professional context.

Labelling of EU-compliant masks

It is not only since the outbreak of the Corona pandemic that cheap masks have appeared again and again within the EU which look like EU-compliant masks at first glance, but on closer inspection do not fulfil the required points. Therefore, we would like to inform you here about the essential markings of EU-compliant particle-filtering half masks.

The FFP mask shows, among other things:

  • the CE mark with a four-digit code number from the certification body
  • the FFP protection level
  • the corresponding EN standard
  • the manufacturer’s name
  • the item number

A declaration of conformity from the respective manufacturer is also included in the scope of delivery. In most cases, however, this can also be viewed directly online. On request, the manufacturer can provide an EU type examination certificate. If an FFP mask bears the CE mark including the identification number of the competent authority, it has successfully passed the so-called leakage test of EN standard 149.

Typical imprint on FFP masks (usually seen in the middle segment of the inner part)

the imprint Meaning
Name XXXX Information on the manufacturer
EN 149:2001 Applied EU standard
FFP 2 NR D Protection class and code numbers for single or multiple use
CE XXXX CE marking with four-digit code number
12.2021 Durability of the mask

How can you recognise approved, high-quality masks?

Inferior FFP masks pose a significant health risk because they do not provide adequate protection against viruses, particulates and other disease-causing particles. Approved certified masks of high quality can be recognised by these attributes, among others:

  • The manufacturer’s name or trademark is correctly and firmly affixed.
  • The type-identical marking is also not missing.
  • The number and year of publication of the standard can be seen on the mask, such as EN 149:2001.
  • The mask class and additional information, such as FFP2 NR or R, are printed on the mask.
  • The CE marking and the identification number of the competent authority are clearly visible.
  • A confirmation of the market surveillance authority can be found online for the corresponding product or requested from the manufacturer.
The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) and the MedSolut.com team will be happy to help you with any questions you may have about the recognition of approved masks. Just contact us!

Non-EU masks

The CE marking, which is printed on EU-compliant FFP masks, may not be present on non-EU masks. You can recognise high-quality particle-filtering half masks from the USA, Canada, Australia or Japan by the following features, among others:

USA

In the USA, masks must comply with NIOSH (42C FR 84). Accepted mask types there include the following models:

  • N95 / R95 / P95 (95 percent)
  • N99 / R99 / P99 (99 percent)
  • N100 / R100 / P100 (99.97 percent)
  • HE (99.97 percent)
  • N stands for not resistant
  • R means partially resistant
  • P is the symbol for high resistance
  • HE stands for highly efficient and therefore particularly effective

Canada

In Canada, the same standard applies as in the USA, namely NIOSH (42C FR 84). In addition, the quality standard Z94.4-11 Selection must be met. The following masks are common in Canada:

  • N95 / R95 / P95 (with a protection factor of at least 95 percent)
  • N99 / R99 / P99 (with a protection factor of up to 99 percent)
  • N100 / R100 / P100 (with a protection factor of up to 99.97 percent)
  • HE(99.97 percent)

Australia

In Australia, the standard AS/NZS 1716:2012 applies. Only P2 masks with a protection factor of at least 94 percent and P3 masks with a protection factor of up to 99.95 percent are permitted here.

Japan

In Japan, protective masks must comply with DS Japan JMHLW-Notification 214, 2018. Common mask types are DS2 / DL2 with a protection factor of up to 95 percent and DS3 / DL3 masks with a maximum protection factor of 99.9 percent. The abbreviation D stands for disposable, S means solid and L means liquid.

Tip from your MedSolut experts

Inferior masks can be detected using the shape test, water check, filter layer test or fire test. Although you may have to give up a mask to do this, these precautions could well save lives.

Test the quality of your FFP mask

  • High-quality FFP masks are equipped with an anatomically adjustable nosepiece to ensure a perfect fit. Inferior masks often do not have such a feature.
  • Also bear in mind that EU-compliant masks are waterproof and only soak through to a limited extent. Try pouring a little water on the surface of the mask. If the liquid does not seep through, this is already a sign of good quality. In addition, press the lower part of the mask onto a napkin. If it remains dry, this is also a guarantee of the high quality of the mask.
  • You can also check whether the three-layer FFP mask has a fleece of melt-spun fibre structures inside by cutting it open. If the middle layer is paper, you should dispose of the mask immediately, as this does not ensure a protective function.
  • The fire test is also an indicator of the quality of your mask. High-quality FFP masks do not burn because they are made of non-flammable materials. Cheap masks, on the other hand, burn like blazes.

Applicable standards for filtering half masks

Every filtering half mask must meet the requirements of the European Standard EN 149 Respiratory protective devices Filtering half masks to protect against particles Requirements, testing and marking. The current German version of this standard is EN 1492001 + A1: 2009.

Because FFP masks are part of personal protective equipment (PPE), the requirements of the Ordinance on Personal Protective Equipment apply. In this regard, Regulation (EU) 2016/425 applies.

For FFP masks, DIN EN 149 refers, among other things, to the filter passage and the so-called fit leakage. This is caused by possible leaks between the user’s face and the sealing line of the mask. The total leakage values of the masks in accordance with DIN EN 149 are as follows:

  • For FFP1, the value is at most 22 percent.
  • For FFP2 masks, the value is a maximum of 8 per cent.
  • And with FFP3 masks it is only 3 percent.

Our trained team will be happy to help you with any further questions you may have in this regard.

Correct use of filtering half masks

Even the best filtering half mask will not protect you from viruses, fine dust and the like if it is not used correctly. Below you will find some tips for the correct use of filtering half masks:

Preparatory measures

Depending on the work area, the appropriate FFP masks must be ordered. Regular instruction of the personnel, also with regard to the purchase of new masks, is elementary. The FFP masks must not be used to protect against gases or vapours in concentrations of more than 1 times the currently applicable TRK or MAK value. Please contact our specialists if you have any questions.

Putting on and taking off and correct fit

Before putting on the mask, check that there are no holes, cracks or other damage to the mask. Hold the mask in both hands and then take a deep breath so that you feel a slight vacuum. If there is an air leak around the nostril, apply more pressure to the nostril. Then adjust the mask to the shape of your face as needed.

Do not use the mask if the atmosphere contains less than 17 percent oxygen. Heavy facial hair may affect the fit of the mask.

After use

Depending on the model,FFP masks can be used several times:

  • If the mask is marked with an R, it is reusable and can be worn repeatedly.
  • If it is NR marked, it is not reusable and should be disposed of after eight hours of use at the latest.

How long should FFP masks be worn?

It is recommended that particle-filtering half masks without a breathing air valve be worn for a maximum of 75 minutes with a subsequent half-hour recovery period in accordance with AMR 14.2 of DGUV Guideline 112-190. In total, they can be worn for a maximum of 8 hours without the masks losing their effectiveness.

Models with an exhalation valve should be worn for a maximum of two hours followed by a 30-minute recovery period.

Depending on the severity of the work, air temperature and humidity, as well as heat radiation, etc., shorter wearing times are also possible. Under these conditions, correspondingly shorter recovery periods should be planned.

Ordering a filtering half mask MedSolut will be happy to advise you!

Order your high-quality filtering half mask conveniently on MedSolut.com and benefit from our excellent advisory service. We are here to help you find the right product. Call us on +49 30 209 657 900 or send us an e-mail at [email protected] We look forward to hearing from you!