Nowadays, face masks are badly needed goods. Ordinary KN95 face masks, surgical masks, and even ordinary medical masks that we ware when we go out or work are protective. Protective face mask for medical use is better to be preserved for the front line medical staff who are in a high-risk environment and need these high-level protections more than we do.

How to know the face masks we bought conform to the standard? FFP1, FFP2, FFP3, n95, or KN95.

N90, N95, KN95…when buying respirator masks, most people are confused with these identifications not knowing which are qualified products while also worried about fake goods, like fake CE documents or testing reports.

In fact, N90, N95, FFP2, FFP3, and KN95 are common identifications on the market. The prefix letters represent the region where the standard is implemented, to name N series are the American standards, KN series are Chinese standards, FFP series are European standards, and the figures represent the protection degree, the larger the number is, the higher the degree of protection for the relevant particles is. N95, KN95, and FFP2 have the same degree of protection, higher than KN90 but not as protective as an FFP3 face mask.

FFP2 face masks

FFP2 face masks

How can we identify the N series or the FFP series we bought are qualified face masks? First, buy the face mask respirators from normal channels. Check the implemented standards printed on the masks and verify the registered information of the product on the official website of the regulatory or certification body. For example, visit the U.S. CDC website (www.cdc.gov) to verify the product certification information of N95 face mask, or visit the website of Notified Body, like TÜV Rhine, to verify product certification information of medical protective masks.

What’s the meaning of BFE, PFE, and VFE on masks?

If you see all these three identifications on the package of the face masks you bought, it means the face masks passed all these three tests.

  • BFE (Bacterial Filtration Efficiency) refers to filtering efficiency of bacteria, indicating whether the face masks can filter bacteria particles averaging about 3 microns, the larger the value is, the higher the filtering efficiency is. The American standard of BFE requires the filtering efficiency reach at least 95% if the face masks are used as surgical masks, BFE≥95% means effectively filtering of bacteria.
  • PFE (Particle Filtration Efficiency) refers to filtering efficiency of particles, indicating whether the face masks can filter particles averaging about 0.1 microns, the larger the value is, the higher the filtering efficiency is.
  • VFE (Virus Filtration Efficiency) refers to filtering efficiency of the virus, indicating whether the face masks can filter particles averaging about 0.1 –5 microns, the larger the value is, the higher the filtering efficiency is.

Is the mask still protective if it is reused or sterilized by myself?

As the masks we bought becomes less and less every day, we got the idea of “thrift” — try to extend the use of masks by reusing, sterilizing, or even someone makes DIY masks. Let’s see and explain from a professional perspective.. 

  1. Reuse. It depends on the environment and circumstance where the mask is used. If a mask is used in an open area or a not densely-populated place and it is not contaminated, smudged, or damaged, it can be reused several times in case of masks shortage. But if a mask is used in high-risk environments like hospitals, trains, or airplanes, for example, a mask, especially disposable masks, worn in crowded places such as trains and airplanes on a business trip, should be discarded after use and should never be reused.

    FFP3 face masks

    FFP3 face masks

Sterilizing used masks. Here comes the conclusion: sterilizing used masks by household means is not reliable from the point of view of virus protection no matter steaming, or heating by the microwave oven, or by ultraviolet radiation. Face masks, especially medical masks, are made of special materials, the household sterilizing means may change the texture of the material and reduce protection efficiency.

  1. DIY masks. The production of face masks is a professional process, requiring not only a qualification but also special filtering material so as to be protective. DIY masks cannot provide professional protection efficiency at all. It’s no harm to spend time at home doing manual work, but from the perspective of epidemic prevention and control, it’s not recommended to use DIY

Special attention wearing masks.

Four steps should be taken to correctly wear a face mask.

1. Before touching the face mask, wash your hands. Do not touch the inside of the mask while putting on a mask to avoid contamination.

2. Do not press the face mask you ware, otherwise, the filtered virus on the outside will penetrate in and increase the risk of pollution.

3. Make the mask fit the face well;

4. Do not touch the outside of the mask when you are taking it off, avoid bacteria contaminate your hands, and wash your hands after taking off a mask.

In addition, do not put the mask you taken off in your bag or pocket, which may lead to secondary pollution. Remember to fold the side that touches the nose and mouth inward and put it into a clean self-sealing bag.

Tips

  • Fellows returning to work shall wear masks and take other protective measures.
  • Wear masks, wash hands, ventilate, and less gathering.
  • Let’s take personal protection measures and live a healthy and safe life every day, we firmly believe we will win.