The Covid-19 pandemic hit the world hard, and one of the quick solutions has been the wearing of face masks. However, there has been confusing information about the wearing of face coverings.
Facial masks were initially used in the medical industry, but since the coming to light of the deadly virus, even an average joe needs to mask up. And it just seems like wearing face coverings is going to be the new norm for a couple of years.
As soon as the pandemic came, people were advised to mask up. This decision was arrived at because medical masks weren’t enough to protect individuals from respiratory pathogens.
However, it seems like there is some confusion about different face masks. Most people can’t figure out which is the best face mask to use. So this post will go deep to explain one of the most common types of masks – FFP2 masks.
I will cover all the details you need to know about the Filtering Face Piece mask, the features, who needs to put on this face covering, plus some of the latest guidelines and testing parameters to help you identify the right face mask. But before that, let’s look at some of the reasons why you need a face mask, shall we?
Why You Need Face Masks During the Covid-19 Pandemic
Research has proven that wearing face masks can reduce the spread of Coronavirus. However, people still make some of the biggest mistakes when wearing their face masks. For example, people don’t mask up completely – some dangling from one ear while others pull-down below their chins.
Besides, many people will not show the Covid-19 signs, so it’s nearly impossible to look at someone and conclude that they are Covid-19 positive. For this reason, people need to mask up to protect those around them. Apart from these, what are other reasons why people should wear face coverings?
1. Prevents the Wearer from Spreading the Covid-19 Virus
Many studies have proven that face masks contain droplets deposited from the wearer. These droplets can always be passed from the wearer to the next person. While there is a debate on whether a face covering protects the wearer or the people around you, it’s now clear that it shields the people around you more than it protects you. In other words, if everyone masks up, there will be little to no transmission of the deadly virus.
2. Many With Covid-19 Don’t Know they Carry the Virus
According to research, 40 percent of people with the Coronavirus are asymptomatic, meaning that they don’t show signs of the virus, but can transmit it to others. Apart from widespread screening and testing, there is no other way we can prove that someone has the Coronavirus. Therefore, the best way is to wear face coverings to keep everyone safe at all times.
3. Reduces Transmission in the Community
By wearing your face mask appropriately and following the World Health Organization guidelines, you will be protecting the people around you.
As we have said earlier, you cannot judge anyone claiming Covid-19 positive without screening and testing. That means that the only way to prevent this deadly disease is to put on face coverings.
Now that we know why we need to put on our face masks, what is a Filtering Face Piece face mask, and what is so unique about it?
What Is an FFP2 Mask?
Let’s start with the basics; FFP means Filtering Face Pieces. FFP2 masks are available in many stores, but you need to be sure they are the original Filtering Face Piece face coverings. While these face masks are still short in demand, the retailers are still working round the clock to ensure that they produce adequate to match the demand.
FFP2 masks have gained popularity because of their widespread use in nursing homes by the elderly and the sick. They are excellent in protecting the wearer and can offer protection to most viruses. Still, medical professionals advise that you don’t use them when you contact patients suffering from a highly infectious disease.
FFP2 masks can filter up to 94 percent of aerosols, which is one reason why more and more people are now ordering this face covering. Filtering Face Piece face coverings are almost similar to N95 face coverings as both are used in medical facilities and biology laboratories.
However, Kolsoe says that people using FFP2 masks in industries are adequately trained and take more preventive measures than the general public. That means that the level at which these face coverings will protect the public is slightly different. That is why it is recommended that the general public be offered more education on wearing face coverings and especially for the FFP2 face masks.
Are FFP2 Masks Reusable?
FFP2 masks are also reusable after a specific amount of time before they get ineffective. If you need a durable face covering, this is one of the factors you should look out for.
According to a new report, both disposable respirators (which includes the FFP2 face mask) and surgical face coverings are reusable as long as they are not damaged or soiled. Additionally, you should ensure that you fold the outer surface inward and then store it in a sealable bag.
According to Webmd, there are four ways you can sanitize respirators and face coverings. Out of those 4 ways, exposure to vaporized hydrogen peroxide has proven to generate the best results so far. So if you plan to reuse your face covering for longer, this method is worth trying.
However, not all people have access to a medical laboratory, which means finding vaporized hydrogen peroxide can be a challenge. If this is the case, you can boil or steam your face mask at 260 degrees or 125 degrees, respectively, for about 3 minutes.
A bit of caution, though, don’t stir your FFP2 face covering while boiling or steaming, as this may reduce the efficiency of the process. The only thing you need to ensure is that the face mask is deeply immersed in the boiling water.
If you don’t have the time to do all this, your best bet would be to develop a rotating mask schedule where you don’t use the same mask for about a week. While this method is effective, most medical professionals don’t recommend it because you never know what parts of your FFP2 mask could be contaminated.
Notable Features and Advantages of FFP2 Masks
There are a couple of reasons why most people or medical facilities are now using the FFP2 face coverings as an option to standard masks. Below are some of the notable features and advantages of the FFP2 masks.
- Reusable & Cost-Efficient – You can use your FFP2 masks for an extended time, as long as you clean them properly using the methods explained above. That means that you can save on the cost of buying face coverings every time.
- Easy To Clean – The FFP2 masks aren’t a nightmare to clean or even store. Use any of the methods I have explained above or read through the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that you are doing it correctly.
- Comfortable To Wear – Most people are not comfortable wearing masks, and many users have claimed that they don’t get enough breath while wearing masks. The FFP2 is comfortable to wear and remove.
- Adjustable Nose Clip – The beauty of this face covering is that you can adjust the nose clip so that it can fit you perfectly.
- Dust And Droplet Particles Effective – Apart from the public use and medical facilities, the FFP2 masks are also used in industries to protect workers from dust and airborne droplets.
- Better Than Other Masks – Compared to the ordinary masks, such as those you can make from home, the FFP2 mask is a better one because it can filter up to 94 percent of viruses.
- FDA Certified – The FFP2 masks have been certified by the FDA, which means that you will be purchasing a face covering that has been reviewed and accepted for general public use.
- 5 Layers Mask – The inner layer of the mask is made from polypropylene, non-woven fabric. The outer layer of the FFP2 mask is made from water-repellent polypropylene non-woven fabric; the second and the fourth is made from polypropylene melt-blown non-woven fabric. The middle layer of this face covering is made from breathable hot-air cotton.
Difference Between FFP2, N95 Masks, and KN95 Face Masks
As I said earlier, the FFP stands for filtering face piece, which means that these kinds of masks are way more effective, and that is why they are used in every industrial setting. But what is the difference between FFP2, N95, and KN95 face masks?
The only certified types of masks are the FFP2, KN95, and the N95 types of face coverings. While some studies state that the N95 and KN95 could filter an extra 1 percent virus than the FFP2 masks, there’s no significant difference, which means these masks are all safe to use.
Filtration Performance: FFP2, KN95, and N95 Masks
All three types of masks – FFP2, KN95, and N95 have the same filtration capacity – 94 percent. According to most standards that govern the production of face masks. However, as I explained earlier, some studies state a 1 percent difference between FPP2 and the other two types of masks – the N95 and the KN95 face covering.
Governing Standards: FFP2, KN95, and N95 Masks
It is essential to note that the three masks differ in how their filtration capacities are calculated. And the procedure used is always changed, depending on where the type of face mask is produced. This is because every country has its guidelines and standards.
Below is a summary of how these masks – the FFP2, KN95, and the N95 are governed/ procedures used to certify them:
1. FFP1, FFP2, and FFP3 masks – EN 149: 2001 + A1: 2009
FFP1, FFP2, and FFP3 masks are controlled and governed by the European legislation, the popular EN 149: 2001 updated in 2009. This legislation details everything you need to know about the certification of respiratory protective devices. This legislation also outlines the branding and test requirements for face coverings.
2. N95 mask – NIOSH-42CFR84
N95 masks are regulated and governed by the American NIOSH-42CFR84 by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the US body mandated to certify facial filtering devices’ effectiveness.
3. KN95 mask – GB2626-2006
Unlike the other two types of masks certified in Europe and America, the KN95 is approved in China under the standard GB2626-2006. Under this regulation, branding procedures, technical requirements, and testing parameters are well laid out to certify respiratory devices.
Varying Testing Methods: FFP2, KN95, and N95 Masks
Although the aim for testing the three masks is the same – to identify the protection level they can offer users, the three different standards use different parameters to certify these masks. But this shouldn’t be a big deal as long as you know that the FFP2 mask is certified by a regulatory body. Below is a screenshot summarizing the differences and the similarities of the three face coverings. Please check it out:
The durability of FFP2 Masks
While I had answered this question earlier in this post, there is a bit more I need to clarify. Now, there are two types of FFP2 masks – based on whether they are reusable or non-reusable. Reusable FFP2 masks will be labeled ® while non-reusable FFP2 masks will be labeled (NR).
Most FFP2 masks you will find from just any retailer are non-reusable, so you need to make sure that you are buying from the right retailer, especially if you are looking for FFP2 masks that you can use more than once. The non-reusable masks last around 8 hours.
While the non-reusable FFP2 masks can last up to 8 hours, you shouldn’t throw them away just after eight hours. However, once your face covering has become damp, please take it to the bin because it will no longer be effective.
For the reusable FFP2 masks, there are procedures for maintaining their effectiveness. Please check out with the manufacturer to ensure you get it right.
FFP2 Masks With and Without Valves – The Difference
FFP2 face coverings can either be produced with a valve or without a valve, so what is the difference between a face mask with a valve and without a valve? Face coverings with a valve are safe for the user but not for the people around the wearer.
The FFP2 masks with valves aid in the filtration of the incoming airflow, which means that these kinds of masks are not suitable for people with Coronavirus. People with Covid-19 should instead choose FFP2 masks without valves.
Who Should Wear an FFP2 Mask?
Not all people can use masks and respirators. A disposable surgical mask will do if you’re going on an errand. WHO encourages people to observe the guidelines in putting on respirators and proper disposal of used masks.
That said, the FFP2 masks can only be used if:
- You’re working in a medical facility.
- You’re running a critical business during the quarantine.
- You’re taking care of someone who has tested positive for covid-19 or airborne diseases.
- You’re showing signs of covid-19 or airborne diseases.
Avoid touching your mask while putting it in public. Also, make sure that it’s a perfect fit for your face. Don’t forget to wash your hands before wearing the mask and after taking it out. As for reusable face coverings, disinfect after use or dispose of them completely.
How to Choose a Face Covering During the Covid-19 Pandemic
Regardless of your preference, be sure to keep your choice of mask simple. The CDC recommends making one from a fabric or a scarf without sewing. However, there are tons of ways to make even the most standard face mask more effective. For example:
1. Layer Up
There are minimum chances that viral particles will find their way through multiple layers of fabric. Ideally, you want to ensure that there are no holes left in the material. You can also incorporate a middle layer such as a coffee filter to make your mask more effective. Alternatively, you could leave one side unstitched to act as a filter – that is, if you’re making one from home.
2. Consider the Fabric
The filterability of virus particles may vary, depending on the type of fabric. As a rule of thumb, thicker fabrics will work perfectly well than thinner ones. Flannel material, for example, is tightly woven, which makes it a better option.
Compared to pure cotton fabrics, antimicrobial pillowcases, tea towels, and cotton-blend fabrics are more effective at filtering out particles. You can also use various materials for different layers of the face covering.
Be sure to use tightly knitted fabric for the layer that will be in direct contact with your mouth. Most importantly, it should be washable and comfortable enough to absorb the moisture from your breath. In this case, people can use materials such as nylon, polyester, and spandex-cotton blend.
For the outer layer, consider using a fabric with a high-thread-count. Such include bedsheets, cotton fabric, or a double-layered bandanna. The primary objective is to obtain something washable and tightly woven.
If you’re skeptical about the density of your material, hold it up to the light. Tightly woven fabric will allow the slightest amount of light to pass through. You should also consider the state of the used material because they might not be as effective as new ones.
Lastly, you will want to ensure that the mask you’re buying online meets the above guidelines: multiple layers, washable, and tightly woven. You can find these from the product description. Other notable features include elastic ear loops and easy adjustment.
3. Ensure It’s a Good Fit
A face covering should protect your nose and mouth, extending onto your chin. It should fit tightly but comfortably against the sides of your face and should not disrupt breathing. If there are spaces left on the sides of your mask, consider adding a stitch to form a dart.
Using Your Face Mask Appropriately
1. Wash Up
The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recommends washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before wearing a mask. Alternatively, rub alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you cannot access soap and water.
2. Don’t Adjust
Avoid touching your mask while putting it on, and do not pull it down to speak or take a snack, then wear it back. While a face covering is primarily meant to protect other people if you test positive for coronavirus, there are chances that someone else’s droplets containing the virus will end up on the outer layer of your mask in a crowded area at a bus station.
3. Remove Carefully
Be mindful when removing your face covering. Wash your hands to protect your eyes, nose, and mouth during the removal of the mask. The CDC recommends touching only the elastic ties then disposing of them immediately. If you included a disposable filter, make sure to dispose of it too. The NYC Department encourages people to follow proper disposal guidelines – avoid placing used masks on countertops or other surfaces that anyone in your household can access. Again, wash your hands thoroughly for safety reasons.
4. Clean Thoroughly
If you want or plan to reuse your face covering, ensure that you have cleaned it thoroughly. According to the California Department of Public Health, you can run your face covering in a series of wash and dry cycles. Alternatively, you can wash your mask with water, but make sure you are not vigorous with how you clean. This is because you could weaken the fabric, rendering it less effective.
How to Tell Counterfeits From Original FFP2 Masks
1. They Have No Marking
Original FFP2 masks have labels and markings printed on them. So be sure to check out the mask if it has the model number, the lot number, the brand name of the mask, and the manufacturer of the FFP2 mask you are purchasing. Additionally, try and check if you can see the TC approval number.
2. Poor Packaging
Another red sign of counterfeits is that they are usually not adequately packaged. If your face covering was delivered in generic packaging, you should question whether the face mask is original or a counterfeit. An original FFP2 mask is first wrapped in a packet, then into a box before being placed into a carton.
3. They Have a Loose Fit/ Made from Soft Material
The final thing you want to check out is the material used to manufacture the FFP2 face covering you are using. If the FFP2 face mask delivered to you is softer than the typical surgical face mask, then that is a red sign you bought a counterfeit. Additionally, the counterfeits will have a looser fit, and you need to check out this too.
Frequently Asked Questions on Face Masks
1. What kind of mask is recommended to prevent Coronavirus transmission?
The recommended face masks are fabric face masks. These kinds of face masks can prevent the transmission of the virus from one person to another, making it a perfect choice for community areas. Governments now recommend fabric face masks in schools or highly crowded areas.
2. What type of mask should children wear during the COVID19 pandemic?
As I mentioned earlier, fabric masks will be suitable for children in schools. Fabric face coverings can help prevent the transmission of the virus from one child to another. But before you hand over the fabric face mask to your child, ensure that the face covering is the right size and that it will fit your child’s face.
3. Are there alternatives to fabric masks such as face shields to protect from Coronavirus?
In cases where some children may not wear a face covering due to specific disabilities, you can provide face shields for such children. However, keep in mind that face shields don’t offer the same protection level as face masks do. So make sure that the face shield covers your child’s entire face to reduce the virus’s transmission.
FFP2 face coverings are the best thing that has happened since sliced bread. With this guide, I hope everything is now clear. Please make sure that you are purchasing the right FFP2 face covering. Feel free to check out our store because we have the original FFP2 face covering. If you need some clarifications before you can purchase, please send us an email or leave a comment, and we will be happy to assist you.