What are the differences between the FFP2 and FFP3 masks?

During this time that we live with the coronavirus, we have already become familiar with the masks and their use. We have different types and there is currently a lot of talk about surgical and FFP2 (which are the ones that most protect us and others from the virus). But what are the differences between FFP2 and FFP3 masks.

Both are PPE, personal protective equipment, and have the acronym of FFP, which in English is filtering face pieces.

What are EPI masks?

According to Health, this type of mask is mainly recommended for use by professionals to create a barrier between a potential risk and the user.

They may also be recommended for vulnerable groups due to medical indications. Among its characteristics, it is noteworthy that purpose as finality filter inhaled air, avoiding the entry of polluting particles into our body.

FFP2 and FFP3 for their efficacy

Depending on their filtration efficiency, they can be of three types: FFP1, FFP2, and FFP3. And in that the FFp2 and FFP3 differ, and those with filters against particles are divided into P1, P2 and P3.

Another difference between these types of masks is that both the WHO and Health recommend against Covid-19 the use of EPI FFP2 masks is recommended.

Regarding effectiveness, the following relationship should be highlighted:

  • FPP1: Filtration efficiency greater than 70% at ambient concentrations up to 4 VLA
  • FPP2: filtering efficiency around 92% at ambient concentrations up to 12 VLA
  • FPP3: filtration efficiency around 98% at ambient concentrations up to 50 VLA

The acronym VLA stands for Environmental Limit Value. And it measures the set of chemical conditioning factors of the air we breathe in a certain place.

Which means that the FFP3 masks have a superior filtering efficiency, around 98%, and the FFP2 is around 92%.


PPE must wear the CE marked, followed by four numbers, ensures that the product complies with the legislation. The reference to the UNE EN-149 standard ensures compliance with a quality standard.

What are their prices?

The prices of PPE masks have been changing throughout the months of this pandemic. From the beginning, the FFP2, which are those recommended by Health for Covid-19 as we have seen previously, the cost has started from 7-6 euros to the 1.70 euros that we can see now in many pharmacies.

But one clear difference between the FFP2 and FFP3 masks is the price. Well, the FFP3 have always had a higher price, initially worth about 25 euros, which meant that a large part of the population did not buy.

What is its duration?

EPI masks last longer than surgical masks, but it is a point that is not clear at all. Because some professionals establish that they usually last between 12 and 14 hours, but the truth is that in the document on the recommendations on Health, for reasons of comfort and hygiene, it is usually recommended not to use the mask for more than 4 hours. And in case it becomes damp or deteriorates due to use, it is recommended to replace it with another.

What other masks are there?

We find hygienic masks, which, like the rest, must cover the mouth, nose and chin and are provided with a harness that surrounds the head or is attached to the ears. They are usually made up of one or more layers of textile material and can be reusable or single-use.

How long do hygienic masks last?

These can be reusable, whereas the surgical ones and PPE cannot. If they are reusable, the manufacturer will indicate the maximum number of washes. From there, the effectiveness of the mask is not guaranteed.

Sanitation specifies that non-reusable items should be disposed of after recommended use. As with all masks, for reasons of comfort and hygiene, it is usually recommended not to use the mask for more than 4 hours. In case it becomes damp or deteriorates due to use, it is recommended to replace it with another.

Surgical masks

According to the Ministry of Health, these masks are the ones we are used to seeing in clinical settings. Its aim is to prevent infected (or suspected infected) healthcare personnel and patients from transmitting infectious agents.

These masks are designed to filter exhaled air. Your mission is to protect those around you, avoiding viral shedding when sneezing, coughing or talking. They must have a mechanism that allows the wearer to wrap it tightly over the nose, mouth and chin.

Regarding its filtration, the Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (EFB), establishes type I or type II. The latter can also be resistant to splashes (blood and other biological fluids) if they are called IIR.

Source: okdiario.com by okdiario.com.

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