What type of face masks do we need?

What type of face masks do we need?

KN95, iiR and FFP2 Masks

There are lots of different masks that you can buy so which is best for your needs and what do they consist of and what should you look for?

The most popular and sought-after face mask is the complete protection IIR or iir mask. This is the mask used in hospitals and provides complete protection. The Type IIR Surgical Face Mask gives the highest standard of reliable barrier protection due to its fluid-resistant capabilities.

Face Visors and Face Shields

Covering the rest of the face using a face shield or face visor offers the best protection. Naturally, prices escalated during the initial stages of the crisis but as Deliver Net has always bought these masks as part of the general supplies of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), we were able to secure sufficient volumes to meet demands. We have subsequently sourced a larger volume to cope with the demand from other care professions such as dentists, and for the medical profession in general. Significant investment has enabled us to force down prices to protect more medical staff from infectious diseases. Deliver Net Type IIR - EN14683 are £29.63 for a pack of 50 masks and they are appropriate for situations where exposure to blood and/or bodily fluids from the patient or work environment is a risk for the healthcare worker.

What is confusing with face masks is that not all surgical masks are appropriate for use in surgery. Surgical masks may be labelled as surgical, isolation, dental, or medical procedure masks. Chinese health officials distinguish between medical (non-surgical) and surgical masks for example.

There has been an ongoing debate where politicians globally have said that the population should or need not wear a face mask. We have even heard face protection labelled as being ‘selfish’ or ‘self-less’. The point being that wearing a face mask often affords protection for those around us, as it prevents or restricts the transmission of infected droplets. It has been traditional for people suffering with a common cold in the Far East to wear a mask for the benefit of others. Understanding your requirement and need is therefore the first thing to be clear about before deciding what to buy.

Types of Face Masks

The following list and explanation provide more detail to help you understand which face masks meet your needs. For ease we shall only look at medical face masks as we do not sell non-medical ones. To provide the necessary protection, they are also disposable, as any mask that becomes contaminated is useless. Medical face masks are broken down into 2 main types: surgical masks and respirators. Some of the most common include:

How do Type I and Type II Masks Differ?

In summary Type I, and Type IR face masks, filter out bacteria to a level of 95%. Type II and Type IIR face masks have a 98% level of filtration, also known as the BFE (bacterial filtration efficiency). The breathing resistance and splash resistance for Type IR and Type IIR masks are exactly the same.

Type I, IR, II and IIR face masks are all medical grade masks, tested in the direction of exhalation (inside to outside). They take into account the efficiency of bacterial filtration, and are known as ‘self-less’ masks. Surgical masks of this type stop the wearer from infecting the surrounding environment. They are not effective at protecting the wearer from diseases such as coronavirus if they are airborne.

What is a Type II Face Mask?

Type II face masks (EN14683) are medical face masks, made up of a protective 3-ply construction that prevents large particles from reaching the patient or working surfaces, however they are not effective when blood or bodily fluids are present.

Characteristics of Type II Face Masks include:

  • Pleat style with ear loops or ties
  • Protective three-layer construction
  • Available in a variety of colours and styles.

What is a Type IIR Face Mask?

Type IIR face masks complying to the standard EN14683 are medical face masks, made up of a 3-ply construction that prevents large particles or droplets from reaching the patient or any working surfaces. Type IIR face masks have a moisture resistant layer to protect against blood and other bodily fluids. Type IIR face masks are tested in the direction of exhalation, from the wearer to the outside, and are measured by the efficiency of bacterial filtration.

Visually, Type IIR face masks look similar to many others including pleats and ear loops but deconstruction will show the 4 layers including the moisture resistant layer.

Type I, Type IR, Type II and Type IIR masks are for use in protecting others from the wearer transmitting any infection.

How do FFP2 and FFP3 Face Masks differ?

FFP2 & FFP3 Face Masks are European classes of face masks of respirators, that are tested in the opposite direction to the type IIR, so in the direction of outside to the wearer and they are measured on the level of penetration to the face and inward filtration efficiency.

FFP2 face masks are the equivalent of the US N95 face masks and the Chinese equivalent masks the KN95. They meet the standards issued by The World Health Organisation for protection against infectious diseases such as COVID-19. Filtration for the FFP2 masks is a minimum of 94% filtration and a maximum of 8% leakage or penetration to the wearer. These masks are not generally shaped to the wearer’s face but are simply held in place by the elasticated loops that go around the ears and have a relatively short lifespan of under 8 hours typically. Technically, the N95 mask is a US standard and not compatible with the European standards.

FFP3 face masks are more effective in terms of filtration, with a minimum of 99%, and a maximum leakage or penetration of 2% to the wearer. Contributing to these higher levels, is that they are better shaped to the wearer’s face, fitting more fully and often having a valve to help breathe otherwise breathing is quite constricted. The valve also helps to reduce any moisture build up. Typically these masks are used for industrial purposes too such as handling hazardous materials like Asbestos.

All of this class of mask FFP2, FFP3, N95, KN95 and other respirator masks are effective in protecting the wearer from being infected by viruses.

Standards and Regulations

Face masks and respirators are legislated for under different standards and regulations throughout the world depending on where they are made and used.

Medical masks in Europe must comply with the European standard EN 14683, which have 3 levels of bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE1, BFE2, Type R). In the US medical masks must comply with ASTM standards, which have three levels of protection (from low risk of exposure to fluids to high risk of exposure to fluids). Respirators in Europe must meet European standard EN 149: 2001, which includes three classes of disposable particulate respirators (FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3). In the US respirators must comply with NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) standards.

Avoiding Fake or Counterfeit Covid-19 Face Masks

The golden rule is to buy from a trusted source such as Deliver Net, who check the origins and certifications for you.

If the product you are looking at is below the prices on offer from Deliver Net, you should question the origins. All face masks should have marketing and labelling on the boxes and on the product itself. KN95 face masks are £29.40 for a pack of 10 and IIR facemasks are £18.57 for a box of 50. The business you are buying from should be happy to share the certification standards with and if they cannot show the certificates DO NOT BUY!

If in any doubt, do not hesitate to call our sales and customer service team on 01756 706050. They will be happy to help.