Face Mask Types – A Buyer’s Guide

Face Mask Types – A Buyer’s Guide

Posted on October 17, 2023

As the Covid-19 pandemic has reshaped our daily routines, one item has emerged as an indispensable part of our attire – the disposable face mask. Now, with winter fast approaching, the value of these masks is becoming even more evident. Beyond their role in preventing the spread of Covid-19, these masks are proving essential in keeping us and those around us safe from the common cold and other respiratory infections.

In this article, we’ll explore the various types of disposable face masks and discern which ones are best suited for different situations.

What Are The Types Of Face Masks?

Type I, II, and IIR Face Masks

Type I

Type I face masks serve as an important tool in our collective effort to reduce the transmission of infections, especially in the ongoing battle against respiratory illnesses. These masks, as defined by the British Standards Institute, boast a Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE) of 95%, meaning they are highly effective in filtering out larger respiratory droplets that may contain infectious agents during exhalation.

The primary purpose of Type I face masks is to provide a protective barrier for both the wearer and those around them. They play a pivotal role in reducing the risk of transmitting infections to others, making them a valuable resource in various settings. These masks are particularly suitable for use by individuals, patients, and the general public.

Type II

Type II masks stand out as a notable advancement in infection control, offering an elevated level of protection. According to standards defined by the British Standards Institute, these masks exhibit a remarkable Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE) of 98%, signifying their prowess in filtering out larger respiratory droplets that may carry infectious agents during exhalation.

Type II face masks share a common purpose with their Type I counterparts in that they are designed to protect both the wearer and those in their vicinity. However, what sets them apart is their enhanced filtration capabilities, which make them a preferred choice in settings where an extra layer of protection is desired.

Type IIR Face Masks

Type IIR face masks stand as a defence against the transmission of infectious agents, offering one of the highest levels of protection available. These masks, as classified by the British Standards Institute, are armed with a robust Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE) of 98%, making them adept at filtering out larger respiratory droplets that could carry harmful particles during exhalation.

What sets Type IIR masks apart is their additional layer of defence. In addition to their high filtration efficiency, they are equipped with a splash-resistant layer. This feature acts as a shield against coughs and sneezes, providing an extra level of protection to both the wearer and those nearby.

FFP Respirator Masks

Filtering FacePiece (FFP) masks are the frontline defenders against airborne hazards, offering wearers protection against both larger respiratory droplets and fine aerosol particles. These masks have been instrumental in the ongoing battle against Covid-19, providing individuals with a reliable shield against the transmission of the virus. What sets FFP masks apart is their ability to combine robust protection with comfort, making them a practical choice for everyday use.

FFP masks are known for their lightweight and comfortable design. The fabric is engineered to stay lifted away from the face at all times, ensuring that the wearer can breathe easily without feeling suffocated. Their user-friendly features make them a preferred option for those looking to safeguard their health in various settings.

FFP1 Respirator Masks

FFP1 masks are the entry level of mask protection, offering 80% filtering efficiency. They are primarily used to shield the wearer from inhaling solid dust particles, such as those encountered during DIY tasks like sanding and sawing. However, it’s important to note that these masks are not effective against toxic substances, pollen, or infectious particles and bacteria. While they serve a purpose in certain situations, FFP1 masks fall short when it comes to more comprehensive protection.

FFP2 Respirator Masks

FFP2 masks meet the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) minimum 94% filtration requirement. These unvalved masks filter both inhalation and exhalation, akin to the N95 masks in the US. Providing reliable protection, they are essential in the ongoing fight against respiratory infections. FFP2 masks combine high filtration efficiency with comfort and breathability, making them a practical choice for enhanced personal protection in high-risk environments.

FFP3 Respirator Masks

FFP3 masks, boasting a remarkable 99% filtering efficiency, are the pinnacle of mask protection and come highly recommended by the NHS. These masks are the choice for high-risk environments such as hospitals, care homes, medical centres, and testing facilities, where infection transmission is a significant concern, and vulnerable individuals are at risk.

What sets FFP3 masks apart is their unparalleled level of protection against droplets and aerosols. When worn correctly, they offer a substantially higher level of defence compared to FFP1 and FFP2 masks. FFP3 masks are engineered to guard against both solid and liquid aerosols, making them an ideal choice in situations where comprehensive protection is non-negotiable.

Fabric Masks

Fabric masks are a type of face mask made from various textile materials, such as cotton, silk, or other tightly woven fabrics. They are designed to cover the nose and mouth and are used to reduce the transmission of respiratory droplets from the wearer to others. An effective fabric mask consists of more than one layer of fabric, creating a dense and protective barrier against potential infectious agents.

The higher the number of layers, the more protection a fabric mask provides.

How to Choose The Right Mask For My Needs?

Type I masks are designed for patients and the general public to minimise the transmission of infections, especially during epidemics or pandemics, whereas they are not meant for healthcare professionals in clinical environments. 

Type II and Type IIR masks are primarily intended for healthcare professionals in clinical settings, such as operating rooms, with Type II further categorised based on its splash resistance, denoted by ‘R,’ signifying splash resistance.

FFP Respirator masks find application in diverse settings, ranging from domestic to industrial and healthcare environments. In contrast to surgical masks, these masks offer protection to the wearer, preventing the inhalation of infectious agents, airborne pollutants, or solid particles in the form of aerosols and droplets.

 To ensure their effectiveness, wearers must be free of facial hair, and it is essential to undergo a ‘fit test’ to ascertain that the mask is appropriate for their specific needs.

What’s The Difference Between Medical & Non-Medical Face Masks?

At its core, discerning between medical and non-medical masks is a matter of understanding their intended use. Non-medical masks are primarily designed for the general public or for use in settings outside the realm of healthcare. 

They are the go-to choice in situations where the risk of exposure is low, such as in everyday life or when maintaining social distance is challenging. On the flip side, medical masks are explicitly engineered as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) intended for use within medical environments.

We trust that the information provided in this guide has been beneficial in helping you make informed decisions about the right masks for your needs. 

F2 Medical Supplies Ltd is dedicated to providing high-quality masks and personal protective equipment, ensuring that you receive reliable and effective solutions to safeguard your health and the well-being of those around you. 

With a commitment to upholding the highest standards, you can trust that their products adhere to the necessary certifications and regulations for infection control.