We just wanted to put this quick guide together to help everyone understand the differences between these two mask types.
Surgical face masks
These are traditionally the type of masks that you see around hospitals and are usually either blue or white and are flat. They are used in hospital settings (and healthcare establishments) and are for use to protect others from the wearer transmitting infection.
There are four main types:
Type I Face Mask – filter 95% of bacterial
Type I R Face Mask – filter 95% of bacteria and are splash resistant
Type II Face Mask – filter 98% of bacteria and are splash resistant
Type II R Face Mask – filter 98% of bacteria and are splash resistant
As you can see, surgical masks differ in their bacterial filtration efficiency from 95% to 98% and in thickness and comfort.
The ‘R’ rated masks are made from a 4-Ply construction and have a splash resistant layer to protect against blood and other bodily fluids.
Surgical masks of this type stop the wearer from infecting the surrounding environment. They are not effective at protecting the wearer from airborne diseases such as coronavirus.
These respirators meet the guidelines from the World Health Organisation for protection against Covid-19 and are worn in ICU hospital units.
FFP2 Face Mask (equivalent to KN95 and N95)*
FFP3 Face Mask
FFP2 and FFP3 Face Masks are European classes of respirators, tested on the direction of inspiration (outside to inside) and take into account leakage to the face and filtration efficiency. These and other respirator masks, including KN95and N95 are effective at protecting the wearer from viral transmission.
*KN95 and N95 masks cannot be officially legally recommended for use in healthcare settings in Europe although in the current situation with PPE shortages in practice a more flexible approach seems to be being taken.