Here is our quick overview to the different types of face masks available.

N95/N100 and FFP2/FFP3 Masks

  • N95/N100 designations are used in the USA and are roughly equivalent to FFP2/FFP3 in the EU.
  • FFP3/N100 masks are the highest rated masks available, and protect the wearer from aerosols and droplets at concentrations up to 50X occupational exposure limits (set by health organisations).
  • These are needed and used by medical professionals in direct, frequent contact with patients known to have an infectious respiratory disease.

Surgical Masks

  • Surgical masks protect the wearer in a similar way to N95/FFP2 masks, however they are less effective than these.
  • They will protect the wearer from respiratory droplets which may approach the face, however are fitted less firmly to the face and filter less effectively than an N95.
  • These are being used by medical professionals as a precaution when treating any patient, in case they may also be an asymptomatic carrier in addition to their presenting medical complaint.

Home-made Masks

  • Home-made masks are not regulated or confirmed to protect to any given standard.
  • However, if the majority of people wear a mask of some form, evidence shows a reduction in disease spread.
  • This is particularly important for people who may have asymptomatic infections and not know that they are spreading the virus while out of the house.
  • Any time you are outside the house in an enclosed or crowded space you should wear a face covering if you can – this includes supermarkets and public transport.

Why did the advice change suddenly?

Research!

Remember we are forever learning: advice and guidance will evolve as we learn new things.

Previously, home-made masks were not advised, as they are less protective than medical masks and individually do not provide full protection to the wearer.

However, new research is now showing that the limited protection given through reducing droplet spread from the wearer is worth it. In addition, the net gain of everyone wearing one is much greater than just the actions of one single person.

This was a guide on the types of face masks…