There are various types of masks: a guide to choose them safely and orient yourself in the certifications to avoid scams
Choosing the correct mask is essential to protect us from Covid-19. This is why it is essential to clarify the devices available, the types and certifications that protect against scams
In this sense, a useful guide is provided to us by the experts of Mascherine.it, an Italian company active in the supply of personal protective equipment, which has drawn up a list of tips to guide us in choosing.
- The types of masks
- Producer and certifier: two different subjects
- How to protect yourself: check the certification
The types of masks
Generic masks: they are neither medical devices nor personal protective equipment; the breathability and filtering capacity of this type are unknown, therefore they cannot guarantee adequate protection from Covid-19. These are, in fact, the classic cloth masks and community masks, but also surgical or FFP2 masks without valid certification.
Surgical masks: the best known and most used, fall into the category of class I medical devices, regulated by the EN 14683 standard and their purchase is deductible. The ability to filter bacteria is measured by the BFE (Bacterial filtration efficiency) indicator and filter large bodies up to 3 microns. They are divided into 3 categories differentiated by breathability and filtering capacity: 1 (minimum filtering capacity equal to 95%), 2 (average filtering capacity of 98%) and 2R (filtering capacity equal to 98% and resistant to splashes).
The filtering capacity towards the outside is therefore very effective, vice versa, from the outside towards the wearer, the filtering capacity is considerably reduced. Surgical masks are ideal for use in open environments, but not recommended for prolonged use and should be changed every 4 hours. Caution: Product information is printed only on the packaging and not on the overlay.
Personal protective equipment: known as PPE, they are regulated by the EN 149: 2009 standard. Before the advent of Covid-19, PPE were devices used especially to offer protection during particular processes, such as painting, sandblasting, etc., but they are also suitable for protecting against biological risk, therefore suitable for protection from Covid 19 , as indicated by the WHO and the European Commission regarding the FFP2 type. In fact, personal protective equipment can filter bodies up to 0.6 microns (BFE), i.e. they have 5 times greater coverage than a surgical mask.
PPE are divided into categories based on filtering capacity: FFP1 (greater than or equal to 80%), FFP2 (greater than or equal to 94%) and FFP3 (greater than or equal to 98%). FFP3s, in addition to being difficult to produce, have very important respiratory resistance, which is why, among the various PPE, the WHO and the European Commission have identified FFP2 as the best device against Covid.
The FFP2 are perfect for use in closed spaces such as shops, workplaces and public transport and offer protection for up to 8 hours.
By law, the ID of the certifying body (CE followed by a code of 4 numbers), the manufacturer's ID, the product ID, the reference standard and the type of filtering capacity must be written on each PPE ( FFP1, FFP2 or FFP3).
Producer and certifier: two different subjects
Manufacturer and certifier are two different subjects: the first is a company that deals with the physical production of masks or personal protective equipment (PPE), the second is a notified body authorized to issue certifications.
The PPE manufacturer cannot independently issue the certification but must pass through a certifying body. While the manufacturers of medical devices (surgical masks) have the possibility to independently carry out the tests necessary for the validation of the product and prepare the technical data sheet, naturally taking into account all the necessary requirements.
The certifying body, which therefore works with the manufacturers of PPE, supervises the entire production process in a two-stage certification. The first is called "module B" and includes laboratory tests (layers, filtering, resistance, etc.) the second can be of two types: module C2 or D. These are the verification checks in the production site, which in the " module C2 "are done at least once a year while to be certified" module D "a much more continuous verification is required. Depending on the verification process chosen by the company and following the actual compliance, the certifying body issues the C2 or D.
How to protect yourself: check the certification
The certification has an identifier issued by the certifying body and each certifying body has its own website where you can check the validity of the certificate in question. It is therefore very important to purchase the certifications clearly from those who provide them with clarity, thus allowing consumers to verify independently.
A further recommendation is to check whether the certifying body is actually authorized to certify the PPE. Like? By visiting the European Commission – Nando website and entering the ID consisting of 4 numbers that identify the certifying body in the "Free Search" section, under "Keyword On Notified body number". Through this simple check it is possible to read the details of the product categories for which the body is authorized to issue the certification. If the "Personal Protective Equipment" category is present in the list, it means that the certifier is authorized and the product is safe