What are FFP2 Masks?

Updated: Feb 22, 2021

FFP2 Masks are Particle-filtering half masks, which are items of personal protective equipment (PPE) within the framework of occupational safety. Particle-filtering half masks are originally known as so-called "dust protection masks" used the field of crafts. They are white, often dome-shaped or foldable ("coffee filter shape") and protect the wearer of the mask from particles, droplets and aerosols. Correctly fitting FFP2 Masks fit snugly and provide external as well as self-protection. FFP2 Masks, as items of personal protective equipment, serve primarily to protect the mask wearer from particles, droplets and aerosols. The masks are intended to be disposable. They should be changed regularly and disposed of after use. They must fit closely onto the face in order to develop their filtering performance. Like medical face masks, FFP2 masks must comply with clear requirements of legal and technical standards. In particular, the filtering performance of the mask material is tested with aerosols against the European standard EN 149:2001+A1:2009. FFP2 Masks must filter at least 94% of the test aerosols. They are therefore proven to provide effective protection against aerosols, too. The test standard is printed onto the surface of the FFP2 Mask, together with the CE mark and the four-digit identification number of the notified body. The CE mark indicates that the FFP2 Face Masks have undergone a successful verification procedure (conformity assessment procedure). As with medical products, manufacturers use this to prove that their products meet all the requirements of the applicable laws and standards. Only then can the masks be legally marketed in Europe. The conformity assessment procedure includes a so-called "type examination" according to PPE Regulation (EU) 2016/425. This test is carried out by notified bodies, e.g. German TÜV Rheinland. Afterwards, the manufacturer may print a CE mark onto their masks and distribute them legally. The CE mark bears the four-digit number of the notified body involved. The requirements of the European standard EN 149:2001+A1:2009 must be met.

If the total leakage is no more than 11% and the maximum allowable concentration is not exceeded by more than ten times, the masks are suitable for providing protection against solid and liquid dusts, smoke and aerosols. These are all harmful substances that irritate the respiratory tract in the short term, but reduce the elasticity of the lung tissue in the long term. They include concrete, cement and plaster dust, softwoods, fine paint and resin particles and plastics, but also smog and allergens (pollen) as well as viruses (SARS) and bacteria (tuberculosis). The FFP2 Masks are therefore worn in industry, in car manufacturing, in construction, but also in woodworking and in health care.

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