Understanding the differences between FFP2 and FFP3 masks: a comprehensive guide
7th November 2023

In the respiratory protection field, FFP2 and FFP3 masks stand out as high-performance champions. These masks play a vital role in safeguarding individuals against harmful airborne particles, but understanding what sets them apart is crucial in making the right choice for your specific needs. In this article, we delve into the key distinctions between FFP2 and FFP3 masks, shedding light on their filtration efficiency, fit, intended use, comfort, cost, and the regulatory standards that govern their production.

Filtration Efficiency

One of the most significant differences between FFP2 and FFP3 masks lies in their filtration efficiency.

  • FFP2 masks typically have a filtration efficiency of around 94% or higher for particles that are 0.3 microns in size or larger.
  • FFP3 masks offer an even higher level of protection, with a minimum filtration efficiency of 99% for 0.3-micron particles.

This means FFP3 masks are more effective at filtering out smaller particles, including some aerosols and fine respiratory droplets.

Leakage and Fit

Another critical factor to consider is the fit and leakage of these masks.

  • FFP2 masks are designed to fit snugly on the wearer’s face and offer good protection when properly sealed.
  • FFP3 masks have a more advanced sealing mechanism and often come with additional features like adjustable straps and a foam seal, ensuring a better fit and minimising the risk of air leakage.

This superior fit makes FFP3 masks suitable for environments where exposure to highly contagious aerosols or hazardous particles is a concern.

Occupational Use

FFP3 masks are primarily designed for high-risk occupational settings where exposure to harmful airborne particles, such as asbestos fibres or certain chemical aerosols, is common.

In such environments, the higher filtration efficiency and better seal of FFP3 masks provide a superior level of protection for workers. FFP2 masks while still offering good protection, are often used in less hazardous situations.

Comfort and breathability

Comfort and breathability are essential factors for mask wearers, especially for extended periods.

  • FFP2 masks are generally more comfortable to wear for longer durations due to their lower filtration efficiency and reduced breathing resistance compared to FFP3 masks.
  • The higher filtration efficiency of FFP3 masks can make breathing slightly more challenging, which might limit their suitability for extended use.

Cost considerations

Cost is also a significant consideration when choosing between FFP2 and FFP3 masks.

  • FFP3 masks, being of higher quality and offering better protection, tend to be more expensive than FFP2 masks.
  • Your choice may depend on your budget and the specific application of the mask.

Regulatory Standards

Both FFP2 and FFP3 masks must meet specific regulatory standards to ensure their effectiveness and safety. In Europe, these standards are defined by EN 149:2001+ A1:2009.

It’s essential to ensure that the masks you purchase meet the appropriate standards.

Key points to take away

FFP2 and FFP3 masks are both valuable tools for respiratory protection, but they differ in filtration efficiency, fit, intended use, comfort, and cost. When choosing between the two, consider the level of protection required for your specific situation.

FFP3 masks are ideal for high-risk environments, while FFP2 masks offer good protection for general use. Whichever mask you choose, it’s crucial to wear it correctly and ensure a proper fit to maximise effectiveness in reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses.

Globus 360 Programme

If you need help choosing the right mask for your use, the Globus 360 programme offers a comprehensive site and risk assessment, and product recommendations.

Find out more, here.

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