What are the masks that best protect against viruses?

The world is facing a shortage of masks and other protective equipment against the new coronavirus as people do not heed the World Health Organization’s recommendations to wear masks only when sick or to care for them. Since the outbreak, people in China and around the world have been rushing to their local pharmacies for masks. But there are different types of masks on the market, and not all of them are really effective against this virus. Surgical masks are flying out of stores, but… are they really effective? What are the masks that best protect against viruses? Read this article to find out.

The types of masks that best protect against viruses

A contagious patient suspected of carrying a virus should immediately put on a mask to avoid infecting those around him. In hospitals this is simple, and in some countries like China or Japan it is also normal to see people on the streets or at home with masks, but in the West it is not common and we are not used to it, so we do not know what masks are. that best protect against viruses . We are going to start talking about the types of sanitary masks that exist and their functions.

Surgical Masks: Do They Protect Against Viruses?

A surgical mask is a disposable medical device that can be purchased at the pharmacy that protects against infectious agents transmitted by “droplets” of saliva or secretions from the upper respiratory tract when the wearer exhales.

If worn by the caregiver, the surgical mask protects the patient and their environment (air, surfaces, equipment, surgical site). If carried by a contagious patient, it prevents the patient from contaminating their surroundings and environment. These masks should not be worn for more than 3 – 8 hours .

Te contamos cuáles son las mascarillas que mejor protegen contra los virus

A surgical mask can also protect the user from the risk of splashing biological fluids . In this case, the surgical mask must have a waterproof layer. It can also be equipped with a visor to protect the eyes.

But a surgical mask does not protect against “airborne” infectious agents, so it will not prevent the user from potentially becoming contaminated with a virus such as coronavirus.

Filter masks

Filter masks consist of a mask and a filtering device . Sometimes the filter element is built into the mask, and depending on the type of filter, the mask will be effective only against particles and pathogens, only against certain gases and vapors, or against particles and pathogens, gases and vapors .

Filtered respirators can sometimes also be equipped with an exhalation valve to improve user comfort. The valve prevents condensation inside the mask, fogging up the goggles, and helps the wearer to breathe in and out easily.

It should be noted that these masks also protect those who use them from inhaling “drops” of infectious agents. They can be disposable or reusable, and in the second case, it is possible to replace the filter when it is full.

Respirators are tested in the direction of inspiration (from outside to inside) . The tests take into account the efficiency of the filter and the leaks on the face. In Europe, they must comply with the European standard EN 149: 2001 which has three classes of disposable particulate respirators : FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3.

FFP1 masks

FFP1s have an aerosol filtration of at least 80% and an inward leakage of a maximum of 22%. This mask is mainly used as a dust mask (home renovations and various kinds of work) and does not especially protect against diseases.

The best offers to buy FFP1 masks

FFP2 masks

FFP2 masks have a minimum filtration percentage of 94% and an internal leakage of a maximum of 8% . They are used mainly in construction, agriculture and by health professionals against flu and similar illnesses, which is why they are considered one of the masks that best protect against viruses . They are currently used for protection against the coronavirus.

The best offers to buy FFP2 masks

FFP3 masks

The FFP3 masks are the most filtering masks of the FFPs. With a minimum filtration percentage of 99% and a maximum of 2% internal leakage, they protect against very fine particles such as asbestos, and they are also one of the masks that best protect against viruses.

The best offers to buy FFP3 masks