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Everything you always wanted to know about masks, but haven't dared to ask ...

The use of local public transport (public transport ⇒ e.g. bus, train) and shopping will shortly only be permitted with a medical mask or an even better protective FFP mask (or a similar standard). Everyday masks made of fabric will then have had their day.


But what is a medical mask?

Medical masks, also called mouth and nose protection or simply surgical masks, are single-use products with clearly defined filter properties.  

Medical masks are Medical Devices and were made for the External protection developed. she protect especially that gegenüber before submitted infectious droplets of the face mask wearer.

It is responsible for medical devices BfArM (Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices) and is subordinate to the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG).

By the shape and fit of most of them medical face masks can especially with Inhalation sucked in unfiltered air .

Therefore offer medical masks usually less protection versus infectious Aerosols than the masks of the standard FFP2, FFP3, KN95 or similar standards.


Now what is an FFP mask?

Particle-filtering half masks (English for: "Ffiltering Fneedles Piece ”) belong to the category of personal protective equipment (PSA) and come from the Arbeitsschutz.

Originally they are known as “dust protection masks” from the trade.

The is responsible for personal protective equipment (PPE) BAuA (Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) and is subordinate to the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (BMAS).

This also explains why they are not declared as medical masks.

FFP masks protect the carrier Particles, droplet and Aerosols and when they sit correctly, they bid External and internal protection. (For the sake of clarity, it should be mentioned here that this is for FFP masks without valve applies, because these filter the exhaled air and thus also offer external protection) 

The Filter performance for FFP2 is at least 94% and for FFP3 with at least 99% the test aerosols from the European standard EN 149: 2001 + A1: 2009 required. The test standard is printed on the FFP mask together with the CE mark and the four-digit identification number of the notified body (the one that carried out and certified the test).

There are also other type designations who. KN95, N95, P2, DS2 or CPAthat originate from standards in other countries or regions and that have at least one equivalent Filter performance, like the FFP masks listed here, and are also approved.


In summary it can be said:

Medical mask

Particle filtering half mask

Surgical mask, mouth and nose protection

FFP2, FFP3, KN95, N95, DS2, P2, CPA etc.

External protection

Self protection / external protection (without valve)

CE marking as a medical product on packaging

CE marking (with number) on packaging and product; personal protective equipment (PPE)

Protection against droplets

Protection against droplets and aerosols



Source: Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM)


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