This is the first in a series of face mask related blogs. Keep an eye out for future posts.
Medical face masks come in two forms – surgical and respirator. Surgical masks protect the people around the wearer and respirator masks protect the wearer. Each type of mask has different features and standards and regulations they must conform to. All Facemate face masks manufactured by Irema are certified medical devices meaning they are for use in healthcare settings.
Surgical medical face masks
Surgical masks are categorised into three “Types”; Type I, II and IIR. Irema provides the highest level of protection in its Type II and Type IIR face masks. This is because our products are used in hospitals all over the world and so must meet BFE (Bacterial Filtration Efficiency) of 98%. WHO only certifies Type IIR and FFP2 masks for use in a close clinical environment for example when working in a hospital with known COVID-19 patients.
Type 1 offers less protection (BFE 95%) and is likely to be found in other areas of the hospital. The masks you see in plastic 10 packs in supermarkets for personal use are unlikely to be graded.
All of these surgical medical face masks “Types” are tested in the direction of exhalation (inside to outside) and take into account the efficiency of bacterial filtration. They protect others from the wearer.
Typically Type II is 3-ply and Type IIR is 4-ply. However, Irema has recently launched Facemate Anti-splash Type IIR 3-ply with ear loops. The third layer is splash resistant and protects against blood and other bodily fluids.
Surgical medical face masks come in elasticated ear loop or tie-on styles and are available in blue, green and white.
Here’s how to safely put on a surgical medical face mask with elastic ear loops
Respirator medical face masks
Instead of “Types” respirator face masks have Classes. Respirator masks are tested from outside to inside and so protect the wearer from others. There are 3 main classes:
- FFP2 BFE: =/>94% of all particles measuring up to 0.3μm
- FFP3 BFE: =/>99% of all particles measuring up to 0.3μm
- N95 BFE: =/>95 of all particles measuring up to 0.6μm
The flat-fold masks Irema makes fit closely over the mouth with adjustable nose piece. They are held in place by two elastic loops that go around the head and have a lifespan of 3 to 8 hours depending on environmental factors.
FFP2, FFP3 and N95 masks are effective at protecting the wearer from inhaling particles and viruses such as Covid-19. They are highly fluid resistant, helping to protect the wearer from droplets when someone close by coughs or sneezes.
Many medical masks currently being sold online are without the correct medical certification. This means they are unlikely to be as effective when it comes to protecting against the spread and contraction of viruses.
Surgical face masks used in the EU must follow EU standards. These are Test Standard: CE EN 14683 and Medical Device Regulation MDR EU 2017/745. Some other standards face masks used in Europe must be compliant with are:
- CE EN149:2001 A1 2009 (Respirator masks)
- NIOSH (USA)
- Manufactured under ISO9001:2000 quality system and GMP CE marking approval
Irema’s masks made in both Ireland and Thailand conform with these standards.
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