What are the different types of masks?

  • 2021-03-10
  • 1020

What are the different types of masks?

There are different types of masks to protect against the coronavirus: fabric masks, surgical masks and FPP2 masks.


Fabric masks can be industrial or homemade, category 1 or category 2.Their filtration capacity, which is considered insufficient.


The purpose of surgical masks is to prevent the projection of droplets emitted by the wearer and also to protect the latter against the projection of droplets emitted by others. However, it does not prevent inhaling small particles suspended in the air. According to the National Research and Safety Institute (INRS), surgical masks can filter at least 95% of an aerosol with an average size of 3 µm.


FFP2 masks ("filtering face piece" in French) protect those who wear them against inhalation of droplets, but also particles suspended in the air. They filter at least 94% of aerosols with an average size of 0.6 µm, according to INRS. They are generally used by healthcare professionals who perform invasive medical procedures or maneuvers in the respiratory sphere. For now, the government has not recommended the generalization of the wearing of the FFP2 mask in the general population.



FFP2 mask: how long can we wear it?

For protective masks to be effective, certain rules must be observed, in particular regarding their duration of use. If surgical masks and fabric masks need to be changed at least every four hours or as soon as they are wet, FFP2 masks can be worn for longer.


"The wearing time must comply with the instructions for use. In all cases, it will be less than 8 hours over a single day", we can read on the INRS website. It is generally between 3 and 8 hours. It is not reusable and is not designed to be washed. Wearing this mask is however more restrictive because it can cause a feeling of heat or suffocation.


Another element to take into account regarding the duration of use of FFP2 masks: the expiration date. Beyond the latter, their effectiveness is no longer guaranteed. However, in this context of health crisis, the Ministry of Labor authorizes the use of FFP2 masks whose expiration date does not exceed 24 months if they have been "stored in the correct storage conditions" and if "l The integrity of the packaging, the appearance of the masks (original color), the strength of the elastics and of the nose bar must "have been verified.


How to properly wear an FPP2 mask?

To fully benefit from the effectiveness of an FFP2 mask, it is essential to use and wear it correctly. To do this, you should first wash your hands, before placing the mask on your face. You must then hold the mask and pass the elastics behind your head without crossing them. The next step is to pinch the bar at the nose. Now is the time to check the mask for leaks. To do this, it is possible to inhale: "The mask should be lightly crushed on the face. If the mask does not flatten, it is not waterproof and it needs to be readjusted".

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