What distinguishes the different types of masks on the market
Surgical masks are part of the personal protective equipment (PPE) that must be worn during work and activities that, due to their dangerous nature, can lead to health impairments or injuries of varying degrees. In some Asian countries, wearing hygiene masks in public has been known to prevent the spread of infectious diseases for some time. In many of these areas, the mask is not only accepted as part of a social protection concept but has long been part of everyday life in many areas. Due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, this practice has now developed in this direction worldwide for the majority of the population.
What is important here is the subtle difference between all products that offer wearers different levels of protection. Because there are different types of masks, some of which differ significantly in their design and protective effect.
In the following, we would like to explain the general mask types with their respective properties and explain not only their function but also the corresponding area of application of the mask types.
A basic distinction is made between three types: mouth and nose protection, surgical masks, and particle-filtering half masks.
The mouth and nose cover (community or everyday mask)
While medical face masks and particle filtering half masks have to meet precise standards and regulations for the protective effect, mouth, and nose covers are not tested according to the corresponding legal and normative requirements. They can therefore be placed on the market without an official procedure. There are no legal requirements for the manufacture of the materials used for the masks, e.g. B. to the filter performance. These mouth and nose covers are usually sewn from commercially available fabrics. Their appearance and impermeability are correspondingly diverse - since the materials used differ in design and material properties.
Since they are worn in everyday life, the term "everyday mask" has often established itself colloquially. Such everyday masks do not provide the proof of performance defined in the technical standards, as is precisely required for all our medical face masks and the particle-filtering half masks.
So they usually offer less protection than the strictly regulated and meticulously tested types of masks, such as the FFP2 mask. However, this does not mean that everyday masks have no protective effect at all. Numerous international scientific publications confirm the experience gained about the effectiveness of mouth and nose covers in terms of general civil protection. For example, the mouth/nose mucosa can be largely protected from contact with contaminated hands, which offers at least some protection with textile in front of the mouth than without a cloth over the mouth and nose. Covering the mouth with a cloth also generally reduces the release of droplets and splashes from speaking, coughing, or sneezing.
The medical mask (surgical mask or mouth and nose protection)
Medical face masks are medical products and have been developed explicitly for third-party protection with countless improvements and studies. Above all, they protect the other person from released, infectious droplets.
Due to the shape and fit of our medical face masks, some of the breathing air can bypass the edges. Especially when inhaling, unfiltered breathing air can be sucked in by this so-called "leakage current". Therefore, medical face masks usually offer the wearer less protection against aerosols containing pathogens than particle-filtering half masks (see below). Medical face masks can, however, the mouth and nose area of Protect the wearer from a direct impact of exhaled droplets from the other person, as well as from transmission of pathogens through direct contact.
In contrast to everyday masks made of mere fabric, medical products naturally have special requirements. They must therefore at least meet the legal requirements and comply with the European standard EN 14683:2019-10. Of course, we provide a successful verification procedure (conformity assessment procedure) to prove precisely and transparently that our products meet at least all legal requirements.
We then mark all our medical masks with the world-renowned CE mark to make them available in Europe for the protection of everyone in the next step. Of course, we also submit medical products such as our masks to the technical organization responsible in Germany (TÜV Rheinland) for detailed testing to ensure maximum transparency at all levels. Through their global network of experts and laboratories, the full range of accurate, valid, and comprehensive tests can be guaranteed under the most modern conditions and carried out permanently according to previously defined standards. In addition, we also have our own state-of-the-art State-of-the-art Palas test stand.
When using our protective masks, it must be remembered that...
... when using it for the first time, the user should test whether the mask lets enough air through to impede normal breathing as little as possible
... a soaked mask should be removed and changed
... when removing it, it should only be touched by the straps if possible
... after weaning, the hands should be washed thoroughly in compliance with the general rules of hygiene (at least 20 to 30 seconds with soap)
... they are intended as disposable products for optimal protection of the wearer and should therefore be changed regularly and disposed of safely after use.
The respirator mask (FFP2 mask)
The particle-filtering half masks, which have so far been mainly used in the trades and are also known colloquially as respiratory protection masks, "dust protection masks" or FFP masks (English for: "Filtering Face Piece"), protect the person wearing them from inhaling the smallest airborne particles, aerosols or hazardous /toxins.
They are predominantly white, foldable ("coffee filter shape") and, thanks to our skin-friendly soft fleece, are known for being extremely comfortable to wear. The masks are manufactured by us as disposable products for the best possible protection of the wearer and must therefore be changed regularly and properly disposed of after use Wearing time when used at the workplace is specified in the risk assessment (DGUV Rule 112-190) for a work shift can roughly be declared as a period of eight hours.
However, an FFP mask can only achieve its filter performance if the edges of the mask fit snugly against the skin and no air flows in or out of the mask. In addition, the mask must always fit snugly over the mouth, nose, and cheeks. Thanks to our optimized tight fit, all the requirements for full self-protection and the protection of others can be guaranteed, while the wearer of our mask enjoys a high level of wearing comfort.
Like medical face masks, FFP masks must comply with clear requirements of laws and technical standards. In particular, the filter performance of the mask material is tested based on the European standard EN 149:2001+A1:2009 with aerosols. FFP2 masks must filter at least 94% of the test aerosols. They, therefore, offer demonstrably effective protection against the smallest particles. The above test standard is printed on the surface of our FFP mask together with the CE mark and the four-digit identification number.
In summary, we would like to state:
Mouth and nose covers (Everyday masks) are mostly made of commercially available materials and are only intended for private use. Mouth and nose cover help to protect other people from fine droplets and particles that are often not visible to the naked eye when people speak, cough, or sneeze. However, there are no legal requirements or technical standards for mouth and nose covers made of mere textiles or disposable masks that do not comply with medical standards during production.
Medical mouth and nose protection (MNS) such as surgical masks, surgical masks, or medical face masks, as a medical product, comply with a clear test standard with precise requirements and must be CE-certified. The exact lower limits of the filter properties are clearly defined and should also be checked by the manufacturer. They can be recognized by the CE marking on the packaging. Mouth and nose protection not only offers any necessary prevention but also reliable protection of the other person from potentially infectious droplets (protection from others) and also makes a clear contribution to the safety of the wearer (self-protection).
FFP-Masken (particle-filtering half masks) are items of personal protective equipment within the framework of occupational safety and have the purpose of protecting the wearer from droplets and aerosols. Like medical mouth and nose protection (surgical masks), FFP masks must meet strict legal requirements and clearly defined technical standards. In tests with aerosols, FFP2 masks must filter at least 94 percent of the aerosols. They, therefore, offer proven effective protection against them. The test standard and a CE mark with a four-digit identification number of the test center are printed on the surface of the FFP mask in a way that is easily legible for all users.