With the arrival of the pandemic of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus to our lives, we have been learning, throughout these months, all the types of masks available and for having: surgical, hygienic, FFP2, FFP3 and the newest elastromeric.
In one of his last appearances, the director of the Alerts and Health Emergencies Coordination Center, Fernando Simón, responded to a question from journalists about the possibility of making the use of FFP2 masks mandatory for the general population. “It is neither zero risk nor is it a radical difference in protection from one to the other. The FFP2 fundamentally protects the wearer, if what we want is to protect others has greater ability to filter out the surgical“he said then.
The regulations of both masks
Both FFP2 and surgical masks must comply with filtering percentages that are included in the regulations that regulate them.
UNE 14683: regulates IIR surgical masks marketed in Spain. They must comply with a filtering efficiency of 98% of the air exhaled to the outside. UNE 149: 2001 is in charge of regulating Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), among which are the FFP2 masks. In your case, the filtering should be 92% bi-directionally (both outside and inside).
Mask fit, a key factor
To correctly measure the effectiveness of a mask, other factors must be taken into account in addition to effectiveness. The correct use, as well as a good fit, they also have their importance, as Gemma del Caño, pharmacist and popularizer, points out to Maldita Ciencia. “It is not the same to go down the street keeping your distance from others than to go in public transportation with people who may not be fitting their mask properly“.
Adjusting it well, in fact, can be the difference between a contagion occurring and this not happening. And for this, the best masks are usually the FFP2 as a general rule, as they allow a more closed adjustment with respect to the hygienic ones. Regarding these, the fact crossing the tires is a mistake, as a kind of ‘pocket’ is created through which aerosols can penetrate. In addition, as indicated by the aforementioned medium, it is Preferential use of FFP2 masks in confined or poorly ventilated spaces.