What is meant by BFE?

06 Apr 2022
Categories: Compliance News Products

BFE stands for Bacterial Filtration Efficiency. It is used to define the effectiveness of filtration materials and is a test performed on materials that provide protection such as face masks and surgical gowns. It measures how material filters biological aerosols including Covid-19 droplets. The test is a requirement of EN14683 which all surgical masks used in medical settings must adhere to.


Surgical Mask BFESurgical masks

As mentioned in a previous blog “When are surgical masks used?” there are 3 types of surgical face masks; Type I, Type II and Type IIR. Type I must have a BFE of ≥95%. Type II and IIR (as manufactured by Irema) must have a BFE of ≥98% to be standards compliant. In the USA and Australia and New Zealand, these are known as level 1, 2 and 3.


FFP2 BFERespirator masks

Respirator face masks also have a required BFE level. These protect the wearer as well as the people around them. In Europe, they are known as FFP masks (Filtering Face Piece). In USA and China N95 (or KN95) masks are more commonly used. They are a similar level of quality, but adhere to different standards. N95 must be NIOSH compliant (National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health) and FFP must abide by CE EN 149:2001+A1: 2009 standards.


FFP2 masks reduce the risk of infection

According to the Max Planck Society, a German based organisation conducting research in natural sciences, life sciences and humanities, well-fitting FFP2 masks reduce the risk of infection at least into the per thousand range. The Göttingen study confirms that FFP2 masks are particularly effective in filtering infectious particles – especially if they are tightly sealed around the face.

“If both the infected and the non-infected person wear well-fitting FFP2 masks, the maximum risk of infection after 20 minutes is hardly more than one per thousand. If their masks fit poorly, the probability of infection increases to about 4%.”

As FFP3 masks provide the highest level of protection to the wearer AND those around them, the chances of infection are even further reduced. FFP and N95 masks also protect against dust and fumes.


Irema Facemate BFE

Irema Facemate



Earloop and tie-on surgical masks: Type II and IIR ≥ 98% Primarily people near the wearer
FFP2 ≥ 94% Wearer and people nearby
FFP3 ≥ 99% Wearer and people nearby
N95 ≥ 95% Wearer and people nearby



These protection levels are relevant to all biological aerosols, not just Covid-19

Back to Blog