Test of respirators and Face masks FFP2-FFP3

Test of respirators and Face masks FFP2-FFP3

Face Masks and respirators FFP2 and FFP3

Contents of the May dTest

Published in 5/2009

Just as a watch is not a boot, although both are stretched, the veils cannot be confused with respirators, even if both are worn. But the habit is an iron shirt, so everyone (including numerous paramedics, virologists and officials in charge) repeatedly talks about veils in connection with the new flu, and on television or in photographs in newspapers, magazines and on the Internet, people are “showing off”. Faces with respirators on are in the absolute minority. And those who know grab their heads, because the veil does not protect the respiratory system from viruses and bacteria.

What is it used for

Medical drapes are used to prevent the penetration of microorganisms from the inside out. They are designed to protect the environment, ie the patient.
Medical drape tests are not standardized and are optional. It is performed only on one person who exhales air onto agar plates. The number of bacteria in the agar plates is evaluated with and without the use of a drape. The aim is to determine how the environment is protected from the person wearing the veil.
Respirators (properly filter half masks) are used to prevent the penetration of microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungal spores), fine dust and toxic solid or liquid particles from the outside to the inside. They are designed to protect the user’s respiratory system.
Respirators are subject to mandatory tests and must meet the conditions of the standard (ČSN EN 149). Certified respirators are inspected at intervals of less than one year. One of the most important tests is the overall effectiveness of the protection; it is determined on ten persons and is obtained by measuring the concentration of sodium chloride aerosol (particle size from 0.035 to about 20 μm) in the respirator space of the respirator. The test persons perform the prescribed exercises.

When Acute Respiratory Failure Syndrome (SARS) appeared, panic broke out not only in our country, and people began to supply themselves with drapes. The same pattern of panic behavior accompanied the occurrence and spread of bird flu. This is not the case with the impending swine (also known as New, California, California) flu infection; the official name used by the World Health Organization is A (H1N1).
Six years ago, when SARS joined the spreading bird flu, we spoke out strongly and explained the difference between a veil (albeit a medical one) and a respirator (properly a filter half mask). We have also brought strong evidence that even the best veil does not match the weakest respirator of the lowest filtration class (see www.dtest.cz, Can you protect yourself effectively?). At that time, we were the only ones who sounded the alarm.
Now that swine flu is already behind our hums (Germany, Poland, Austria), some experts are beginning to speak up and finally bring the use of drapes and respirators to the right level. The World Health Organization has also added, stating in its recommendation to the public, among other things, that veils can increase the risk of virus transmission if used incorrectly.

We have prepared blocks of information for you that you should definitely know and that you should take into account when protecting your health. And of course we emphasize: Only respirators of filter class FFP3 (FFP2 are also allowed) for the protection of the respiratory system. They are manufactured without an exhalation valve and with an exhalation valve. The exhalation valve allows the exhaled warm air to escape quickly, so there is no heating and humidification of the respirator material.

Comparison of the incomparable

Although we are aware that we are comparing “pears to apples”, we have placed respirators and medical drapes side by side and measured their overall protective effectiveness. The medical drape with the highest efficiency (85.7%) worked below the level of the weakest respirator (87.3%) of the lowest class FFP1, which protects the respiratory system against inert fine dust.
Medical drapes are made of a material that is easy to pass through, especially the smallest particles and the smallest microorganisms (below 0.3 μm; influenza virus diameter 0.10 μm).

Respirators (user respiratory protection)

 Product  Filtration class Protection Overall protection effectiveness
 REFIL 711 *)  FFP1  inert fine dust  87.3%
 3M 9310  FFP1  inert fine dust  93.3%
 3M 9312 *)  FFP1  inert fine dust  93.7%
 REFIL 730  FFP2  less toxic particles  95.4%
 REFIL 731 *)  FFP2  less toxic particles  94.9%
 REFIL 741 *)  FFP2  less toxic particles  96.1%
 REFIL 820  FFP2  less toxic particles  95.0%
 3M 9320  FFP2  less toxic particles  97.9%
 3M 9322 *)  FFP2  less toxic particles  97.7%
 REFIL 651 *)  FFP3  toxic particles, viruses, bacteria, spores  99.0%
 REFIL 851 *)   FFP3  toxic particles, viruses, bacteria, spores  99.0%
 3M 9332 *)   FFP3  toxic particles, viruses, bacteria, spores  99.0%

*) with exhalation valve
The respirators listed are EC certified.

Medical drapes (environmental protection, ie patient)

Product Filtration class Protection Overall protection effectiveness
 DINA-HITEX Economic  *)  penetration of microorganisms from the inside out  9.9%
 DINA-HITEX Superfilter  *)  penetration of microorganisms from the inside out  85.7%
 30 (unknown)  *)  penetration of microorganisms from the inside out  47.1%

*) There are no classes for medical drapes.

Sizes of some microorganisms

Bacteria face diameter μm length μm 
Streptococcus salivarius ball 0.8–1.0  –
Bacillus megatherium stick 1.2–1.5 2.0-5.0
Pseudomonas fluorescens stick 0.3-0.5 1.0-1.5
    0.7-0.8 1.5-3.0
Bacillus alcalophilus stick 0.7-0.9 3.0-4.0
Mycobacterium tuberculosis stick 0.3-0.6 1.0-4.0 
 Viruses face diameter μm
Rhinovirus (rhinitis) ball 0.023 
Orthomyxovirus (influenza 1)) ball 0.10 
Parainfluenza (dog flu) ball 0.23
Coronavirus (SARS 2)) ball 0.11 
Togavirus ball 0.063 

1) Influenza viruses are divided into types A, B and C; type A is divided into subtypes according to surface glycoproteins – hemagglutinin (H)
  and neuraminidase (N). The designation “swine flu” is A (H1N1).
2) a very likely cause of SARS

Respirators and filtration classes

Respirators are
classified into three classes based on the filtration efficiency of the material and the overall protection efficiency , from which the recommendations for their use are derived.

  • class FFP1 (lowest permitted total protection efficiency 78%): protection against inert fine dust
  • class FFP2 (lowest permitted total protection efficiency 92%): protection against less toxic particles, can be used for protection against biological hazards
  • class FFP3 (lowest permitted total protection efficiency 98%): against toxic and very toxic particles, also viruses, bacteria, spores

Respirators are manufactured without an exhalation valve and with an exhalation valve.
They are not intended for repeated use.
Instead of respirators, more expensive half masks with integrated or replaceable filters can be used. Used for reuse. Their packaging must indicate the harmful substance against which it protects.

How to get a new flu?

As with any flu – follow hygiene rules and behave responsibly towards yourself and your surroundings…

  • regular and thorough hand washing
  • do not touch mouth, nose and eyes with unwashed hands
  • do not touch food with unwashed hands
  • maintain a healthy lifestyle (regular food consumption, adequate fluid intake, exercise, adequate sleep, reduce stress)
  • do not abuse antivirals
  • Avoid places with a high concentration of people when an infection occurs
  • use respirators when infection occurs

Do you know how to “wear” a respirator?

If you put on the respirator incorrectly, its overall protective effectiveness will be significantly impaired.
It will no longer protect you properly, because the surrounding air will enter the lungs through leaks around the sealing line.

  • Place the respirator in a position where the nose clip is at the top center.
  • Before fitting, preform the nose clip by gently bending it in an inverted U-shape. Place the respirator close to the face so that the chin and nose are covered. Make sure that the straps are separated and pull them over your head at once.
  • Place the lower strap under the ears, the upper over the top of the head. Using both hands, shape the nose clip to the nose.
  • Check for leaks: cover the surface of the respirator with both hands and inhale sharply. If air flows around the nose, reshape the nose clamp, if it flows around the sealing line, correct the fit.

Follow the markings

Certified filter half masks (respirators), ie approved by an independent authorized and EU notified body as a personal protective equipment, must bear the following markings:

  • manufacturer’s logo or trade name
  • CE marking with the four-digit number of the notified body
  • type of filter half mask
  • filtration class
  • standard number ČSN EN 149

(The last two digits of the year of issue of the standard may be added after the colon)
Each product must be accompanied by instructions for use.

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