Masks like the N95 mask are being trusted by people due to the recommendation of medical experts. According to medical experts, the N95 mask is the most efficient mask to be worn in this pandemic. The N95 mask is capable of filtering airborne particles like mist, dust, and strains of bacteria and viruses that can potentially trigger a pandemic. With its filtration ability that reaches up to 95%, an N95 mask will keep the wearer from being contaminated. Professionals from the field of Construction and Pharmaceutics also acknowledge the efficiency of the N95 mask. The N95 mask is capable of filtering powdered chemicals, sawdust, powdered cement, and volatile gases.
Being the most trusted mask, the N95 mask is capable of creating a tight seal around the area of the nose and the mouth. This tight seal from the N95 mask prevents the wearer from any form of contamination due to leakage. The N95 mask can also be worn for hours without inducing irritation or any allergic reaction from the mask. This is because the N95 mask does not have latex in its materials used. Moreover, the N95 mask cannot be destroyed unless intentional. The N95 mask is durable, comfortable, and convenient.
However, masks like the N95 mask are not easily distributed. There are a series of tests done to ensure that the N95 mask is safe to use. All of these tests are guaranteed to test the capacity of an N95 mask. These tests are patterned from the given recommendation by a trusted organization; to give the N95 mask more justification for its effectiveness.
Masks like the N95 mask are not distributed without being regulated by any trusted organization. Organizations like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are responsible for the regulation of protective equipment like an N95 mask. Without this regulation from the CDC, the N95 mask would not be distributed for safe use.
What does the CDC do?
The Center for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) is an American organization that aims to provide safety and protection to people from both the United States and outside. They are responsible for early detection and response to health concerns that trigger public health and safety with the use of science. Equipment like the N95 mask goes under their jurisdiction prior to distribution.
The CDC regulated the N95 mask experiences scarcity due to its extreme demand in the global market. Being the most in-demand and most trusted mask, the N95 mask supply is running out in hospitals. With this, alternatives to the N95 mask are being considered. One of which is the FFP or the Filtering Facepiece Respirator.
What is the FFP and how does it differ from the N95 mask?
FFP or Filtering Facepiece Respirator is a standard instituted by the European Union. Like the N95 mask, the FFP is crafted to provide protection against airborne particles. The differences between these two are that (1) the N95 mask is regulated by NIOSH while the FFP is regulated by the European Committee for Standardization; and (2), the category for the N95 mask includes N99, N100 while the FFP has FFP1, FFP2, and FFP3.
What are the FFP mask categories?
The FFP categories are created by the European Union. These categories correspond to the filtration ability that each mask is capable of. There are three categories of the FFP
- FFP1 is the lowest among the three categories set by the European Union. Its filtration ability is only up to 80%. There isn’t any equivalent to the N-series mask of the United States.
- FFP2 has a filtration ability of 94%. This mask is a counterpart of the N95 mask of the United States and works exactly like the N95 mask.
- FFP3 has the highest filtration ability of 99%. This is similar to the N99 mask of the United States.
The higher the number, the more efficient an FFP mask; just like the N-series.
What does CDC say about FFP masks?
There was a CDC published regulation that concerns the utilization of foreign facepiece respirators that are at par with the NIOSH-certified N95 mask. This is in response to strengthening the healthcare system of the United States. This is in line with the International Respirator Assessment that assesses the performance of masks as far as filtration is concerned. Masks like FFP2 and FFP3 with a performance standard of EN 149-2001 are under the list of the masks that are at par with the NIOSH-certified N95 mask.
With the published regulation set by the CDC, it is safe to articulate that the FFP masks like the FFP2 and FFP3 are reliable alternatives to the N95 mask. It can be recalled that FFP2 has a filtration ability of 94% while FFP3 has a filtration ability of 99%.
In fact, the FFP2 is at par with the N95 as far as leakage rate and filtration ability are concerned. The leakage rate for the FFP2 is 8%, which is 2% higher than the N95 mask. Also, the FFP mask comes in two models; the un-valved and valved models. The unvalved model of the FFP, just like the N95 mask, is safe to use in hospitals due to the absence of the valve which is not safe at all. Lastly, the FFP2 makes the more reliable candidate because like the N95 mask, they are both breathable, unlike the higher categories.
With the FFP mask being a reliable alternative, it should not be purchased in bulk numbers like the N95 mask. N95 mask suppliers and manufacturers are doing their best to meet the increasing global demands for the N95 mask. European health care workers also need the FFP mask, as much as the American health care workers need the N95 mask. Both the FFP mask and the N95 mask are important protective gear to protect the healthcare workers from the virus.