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Types of face masks

The first step in identifying the face mask to fit your requirements is to know the different types. Medical face masks are broken down into 2 main categories; medical masks and respirators. Here are some types of masks you might have heard of:

  • Type I Face Mask
  • Type I R Face Mask
  • Type II Face Mask
  • Type II R Face Mask
  • FFP2 Face Mask
  • FFP3 Face Mask
  • N95 Face Mask

 What's the difference between Type I and Type II Masks?

Type I, and Type I R face masks have a BFE (bacterial filtration efficiency) of 95%, whereas Type II and Type II R face masks have a BFE of 98% or greater. The breathing resistance, and splash resistance for Type I R and Type II R masks, are exactly the same.

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 EN14683 are medical face masks that prevents large particles from reaching the patient or working surfaces. Type IIR Face masks include a splash resistant layer to protect against blood and other bodily fluids. Type IIR face masks are tested in the direction of exhalation (inside to outside) and take into account the efficiency of bacterial filtration.

Characteristics of Type IIR face masks include:

  • Pleat style with ear loops or ties
  • Protective layer construction
  • Available in a variety of colours and styles
  • Splash resistant layer against bodily fluids.

Homemade masks

During the current pandemic, there is a rise in the use of homemade masks and face coverings with a few schools of thought about whether this is advisable or not.

The argument that’s made for their use by  The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control among others is that they could help to limit transmission of the virus in busy public situations where social distancing is difficult, such as public transport or supermarkets.

The argument against their use is that homemade masks will be many times less effective than medical masks at preventing the wearer from transmitting the virus and of almost no use in protecting the wearer themselves. In fact the concern is that a sense of false confidence given by using a mask would lead to a greater risk.