A European Union Standard FFP respirator mask is categorized into FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 according to its filtration efficiency.
Label on Respirators
A mask is labelled FFP1, FFP2, or FFP3 if the filtration efficiency of the mask is 80%, 94% or 99% respectively.
Alphabets such as ‘R’ or ‘NR’ on the masks indicate reusability or non reusability of the mask.
A ‘D’ on the mask is suggestive of its dust particle filtration capability.
Filtration of an FFP3 Mask
FFP3 masks have the maximum filtration capacity of all the FFP masks available as they provide protection against very minute particles.
The Bacterial Filtration Capacity of FFP3 masks is 99% which makes FFP3 masks usage ideal in dealing with the spread of Covid-19.
Valve on FFP3 Mask
FFP3 masks come with or without exhalation valves.
The purpose of such valves is to filter the breathed in air whilst leaving the breathed out air unfiltered.
This unfiltered expired air might prove lethal during close contact between healthy people and the sick and vice versa.
FFP3 masks with valves benefit only the wearer thus they should be avoided.
The viral and bacterial aerosols are generated by coughing, sneezing and speaking.
One should opt for using a surgical mask over valved respirator masks to avoid exhaling unfiltered droplets and splashes in the surrounding air.
The presence of a valve is not a positive feature of such a mask, and a mask without a valve provides equally 99% reduction of particles in both the healthy and the sick.
According to sources, masks with valves represent a risk of exhaling unfiltered air.
Therefore, FFP3 masks without exhalation valves are considered suitable in controlling the spread of respiratory tract viral or bacterial infections, such as Corona Virus or Tuberculosis infections.
What are parts of an FFP3 mask ?
FFP3 Respirators come with or without a filtration valve, a nose bridge and ear loops.
According to European Union Standard FFP3 masks filter 99% inhaling vapours, aerosols and/or gases, infectious agents and contaminated droplets.
Therefore, a FFP3 mask without a valve is great in controlling contagious pathogens.
Layers of the Respirator
FFP3 respirator masks are made up of a minimum of 4 layers, making it a high filtration barrier.
The first or the outermost layer is made up of fluid repellent non-woven fabric.
The second is the filter layer, generally made up of polypropylene microfiber to capture the vapours or particles.
The third layer is the acrylic backing for mask support and the final innermost layer is for moisture absorption and is made up of non-irritating and skin friendly composite fibre.
The World Health Organization greatly emphasizes wearing FFP masks as masks help in effective interruption of airborne infections.
Valve less FFP3 masks are, however, the best suitable for healthcare professionals as they are at high risk of exposure to Covid-19.
They not only protect the wearer but also the environment in the absence of exhaling valves.