FFP2 masks, are a specific class of filtering facepiece (FFP) masks; which more generally is a type of personal protective equipment used in many industries. During the Covid-19 pandemic, it became clear that masks could could play an important role in reducing infected droplet transmission between people in close proximity to one another. Which in turn begs the question, are all face masks equally effective in their desired outcome? The answer is a resounding no. To offer the best protection, one should adhere to using a face mask that has been produced to the highest standard of manufacturing and testing. Which brings us to the FFP standard.
FFP masks come in three types, based on the level of their efficacy (estimate based on filter efficiency and leakage to the face):
- FFP1 masks, filtering >=80% of aerosols (total inward leakage <22%)
- FFP2 masks, filtering >=94% of aerosols (total inward leakage <8%)
- FFP3 masks, filtering >=99% of aerosols (total inward leakage <2%).
These types masks are subject to natural aging and consequently have an expiry date beyond which their effectiveness cannot be guaranteed. Additionally, their use is intended for one time only. Reuse of an FFP mask is not recommended.
As the Bavarian government, at incredibly short notice, now mandates the wearing of these masks in their region of Germany, it is a requirement for the affected populace to acquire appropriate FFP2 masks, currently at their own expense, somewhere between 3 to 6 Eur. This extra financial burden has caused much controversy in Bavaria, both due to the short deadline and the expected cost for using a one-time mask which needs to be replaced for each visit to a retailer or usage of public transport. Despite this, most political parties understand the extra protection the masks provide and urge those with the financial means to do so, to equip themselves with a tested FFP2 mask at their earliest convenience, and no later than the 18th Jan.
NOTE: For those readers resident in Germany, FFP2 mask expenses are not currently covered by either the German public health insurance system (GKV) or the German private health insurance system (PKV).
Image, non-FFP2 mask