Although the virus usually enters the body through the mouth or eyes, the hands play an important role in infections.

Mask supplier remind you that if you decide to wear a mask, you should probably also opt for protective goggles. Surgical masks are less effective at blocking viruses, but they serve only as a constant reminder not to touch your nose with your hands when it itches. Don't rub your eyes either.

FFP half-masks offer better protection

In addition to surgical masks, which look more like multilayer disposable kitchen towels, there are also half-masks with a real filter effect. These are more familiar to those who work in dusty environments or with aerosols. They are available either as disposable masks, usually made of strong pressed cellulose with a filter element and an exhalation valve or as plastic masks in which a suitable filter is then inserted.

Particle filtering face mask FFP3

Only an FFP 3-grade mask will filter out enzymes and viruses. But this mask has a valve - it will not protect others.

In the European Union, these types of masks are divided into three protection classes (filtering facepiece).

FFP2 Mask

FFP1

Although masks of protection level FFP1 are still better than surgical masks, they do not offer the desired protection against viruses. They are intended for carpenters, for example, who work at band saws with vacuum-extraction systems. Builders may wear them to catch the coarser dust that vacuum cleaners are unable to. Bricklayers can put them on before mixing cement with trowels, kicking up some dust.

FFP2/N95/KN95

FFP2 masks (equivalent to other international standards known as N95, KN95 and P2 masks) are becoming more and more prevalent for elder-care and nursing homes. They provide a certain level of protection against viruses for the wearer, but should not be used when in contact with highly infectious patients.

Given the temporary shortage of hygiene materials during the first coronavirus wave in 2020, Germany's Robert Koch Institute announced at the time that medical staff could wear FFP2 masks rather than the standard FFP3 masks in infectious situations if FFP3s weren't available. Now there is no longer a shortage of high-quality masks for such critical workers.

FFP3/N99/EN149/P3

Only FFP3 masks (roughly equivalent to international standards such as N99, EN149 and P3) effectively protect the wearer from droplet aerosols, protein molecules, viruses, bacteria, fungi and spores, and even from highly dangerous dust such as asbestos fibres. Unlike simple surgical masks, such high-quality filter masks can protect the wearer — including from a highly infectious pathogen such as measles or tuberculosis.

If a mask is needed — it needs to be the right one

Protection only works if many other protective measures are taken at the same time: Strict hygiene when putting on a mask, protective goggles, gloves and plastic aprons, proper disposal of possibly contaminated disposable items, and regular handwashing. In addition, the surroundings must always be systematically disinfected.

These masks — together with all other protective clothing — are therefore used in quarantine stations, for example, where patients who are already infected are cared for.

What is the benefit of double-masking?

Wearing one mask on top of another is referred to as double-masking. Usually, you first put on a surgical, or FFP2, mask and then a tight-fitting cloth mask on top of that. It is important that the cloth mask fits so well that it is airtight at the edges. The idea behind this: To prevent air from flowing in or out past the mask.