Masks are not like clothes, shoes, or any other garment worn on the body. They are unfamiliar to the majority of the general public who often are unsure about how or when to use them. Written Information provided can often be too technical thus adding to confusion for the user. Then there is the issue of mask regulation. Ambiguous guidelines can allow unscrupulous suppliers to make wild claims about the level of protection their masks provide.
Some of these claims include:
That the filter:
Filters out 99% of all particulates
Is capable of filtering nano particulates
Which in turn implies that:
The mask is:
A top quality product
A fully certified product to a given standard
As with most claims there is always a grain of truth; the filter may have been laboratory tested to filter out 99% of particulates of a given size, however, for a mask to be certified to a recognised international standard*, the whole mask has to be tested and not just the filter itself. The filter may have the potential to filter out particulates, including fashionable PM2.5’s, but the mask which holds the filter, may not effectively seal the filter to the face.
If the mask does not provide adequate face sealing, then unfiltered air will pass around the filter. This will significantly reduce the efficiency of any mask.
Getting a complete mask product certified is a lot more complicated and expensive than just testing the filter media. A mask is put through a thorough range of tests which includes tests on both the mask and filter as one unit. User trials are also carried out wearing the full mask product as masks are often required to perform in an environment that is hostile and life threatening. This ensures that the mask is safe and meets the requirements of a given specification for an international standard for respiratory protection.
Here at Respro® we believe that if a manufacturer claims their mask is certified, then the whole mask must be certified to a recognised international standard for respiratory protection. If it is not then any claims made for the product should be cautiously considered.
*The standards are: Europe: EN149, The US: NIOSH, China: GB2626-2006, Australia/NZ: AS/NZS 1716:2012, Korea: KIOSH
EUROPEAN standard EN149 uses the the following classes:
FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3.
FFP1 - is equivalent to a mask rated N95
FFP2 - is equivalent to a mask rated between N95 and N99
FFP3 - (Highest rated) is equivalent to a mask rated N99
We supply masks that conform to European Standards.
Our CE sports masks are rated FFP1-R. These include the Techno Plus™, Cinqro™, Techno™ and Sportsta™ models.
NB: If you see a model that has ‘FFP1 NR’, it means it is only usable once for an eight hour shift. Masks that are reusable should have the letter ‘R’ after the rating.