What Are The Standards For Masks?

  • By:Connexions
  • Date:2021/10/15

The U.S. and European standards for face masks

Medical masks in Europe must comply with the European standard EN 14683, which has a bacterial filtration efficiency of Class 3 (BFE1, BFE2, type R). In the United States, surgical face masks must comply with the ASTM standard, which has three levels of protection (risk from low fluid exposure to high fluid exposure).

    

Respirators in Europe must comply with the European standard EN 149:2001, which includes three classes of disposable particulate respirators (FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3). In the United States, respirators must meet NIOSH(National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) standards.

    

In this standard, there are several classes of respirators according to their oil resistance :

Class N: no oil resistance. There's a difference between N95, N99 and N100. The number after the letter indicates the filtration percentage of suspended particles.

Rated R: Oil-proof mask for up to eight hours. Here again, a distinction is made between R95, R99 and R100.

  

The use of homemade masks and face masks has increased in the current pandemic, but there are some schools of thought about whether this is desirable. The argument used by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and others is that they can help limit the spread of the virus in busy public places that are difficult to isolate from society, such as public transport or supermarkets.

    

The argument against their use is that homemade masks are many times less effective than 3 layer surgical masks at preventing the wearer from spreading the virus, and do little to protect the wearer themselves. In fact, the concern is that the use of masks creates a false sense of confidence, which poses even greater risks. This, combined with the risk of lack of education due to proper use of masks, means that at the time of writing the UK government is not currently recommending that the public wear masks, although this advice is under review and may change.

    

Members of the public wishing to use surgical or respirator masks should be aware that healthcare staff find PPE difficult to procure and therefore question whether they are pushing up procurement costs for the NHS by depriving staff who need more protection. Members of the public wishing to use cloth masks or homemade masks should be aware of their limitations and stay away from social contact, hand hygiene and avoiding contact with masks or faces is even more important.

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