Coronavirus: face mask, face mask, FFP2, N95, KN95-what is the difference? | Science | Technology In-Depth Report | Data Center | 29.06.2021

2021-11-26 09:01:17 By : Ms. Iris Liu

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A new study proves that FFP-3 masks provide very good protection when dealing with infectious patients. However, medical surgical masks are not enough in hospitals. An overview of the different types of masks.

Bavaria now mandates FFP2 masks

A new study in the UK shows that hospitals where doctors and nurses strictly abide by hygiene practices and wear FFP3 masks can almost 100% eliminate the spread of COVID-19. This proves that masks are indeed effective-some more, some less. 

Since the coronavirus pandemic, most countries in the world have mandated that public places, public transportation and shops must wear masks. In Germany, during the last corona wave, masks must be worn in public buildings and offices, on trains and buses, and on taxis. At first, a homemade textile mask was enough, but then an FFP2 mask was needed-known as KN95, N95 or P2 in other parts of the world. We explained the meaning of the different standards. 

For most of last year, German regulations required the wearing of simple masks as a minimum requirement in most public places. This is a cloth that completely covers the mouth and nose. Even turbans or scarves are eligible. When you exhale, it inhibits the flow of air, thereby stopping the distance the bacteria can spread. This has greatly reduced the risk of infection for others.

The purpose of such masks is not to protect the wearer from infection: they can protect other people from the wearer’s bacterial infection. Because transmission is often caused by asymptomatic people, everyone is a potential carrier of the virus.

Therefore, the logic behind the mask requirement is: if everyone complies, the risk of infection for the entire society will decrease.

Cloth masks should be replaced frequently and washed with hot water to prevent the virus from surviving. 

This medical mask is the professional equivalent of a cloth mask. They are composed of thin disposable paper towels and wool. Doctors and assistants use it mainly to prevent infection of bacteria and pathogens by patients on the operating table. For example, if the wearer of the mask coughs or sneezes, most of the droplets are caught by the mask from the mouth and throat. 

This only applies when the mask is changed regularly and disposed of in a hygienic and safe manner. During the operation, the doctor must change the mask at least every two hours. If this type of mask is worn repeatedly, it will soon fail. 

During the pandemic, higher-quality, better-filtered masks have become the standard almost everywhere in the medical industry. 

It has not been proven that the masks seen above can effectively protect you from virus infection. In other words, these masks may be able to catch bacteria before they reach your mouth or nose. More importantly, they can prevent people from touching their mouth or nose (most people do this instinctively). If you are already sick, this type of mask may prevent you from infecting others.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) list of recommendations, one of the best ways to protect yourself from the virus is to wash your hands frequently. The WHO recommends the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer, as seen in the hospital.

A simpler daily solution is to use water and soap, if you have some convenience. But be sure to wash your hands thoroughly. US health authorities recommend washing hands for at least 20 seconds, making sure to pay attention to areas such as fingertips, thumbs, and under nails.

So this is the doctor’s advice: When coughing and sneezing, cover your nose and mouth with your bent elbow. Or use paper towels-but then immediately throw away the paper towels and wash your hands​​. However, for your shirts or sweaters, no, you don't need to throw them away. However, please wash them frequently or take them to a dry cleaner.

Another suggestion that may not apply to everyone: avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough! If you must take care of the sick, be sure to take extra protective measures.

If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Avoid public places to avoid infecting others. In addition, please explain to your doctor where you have been before and who you may have been in contact with.

Avoid direct and unprotected contact with live animals when visiting live markets in areas where new coronavirus cases are currently occurring. This also includes any surface in contact with animals.

Cook the meat thoroughly. Avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products. Handle raw meat, milk or animal organs carefully to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked food. These are good food safety practices that help prevent the spread of diseases.

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

If you decide to wear a mask, you should probably also choose goggles. Although surgical masks are not effective in blocking the virus, they just keep reminding you not to touch your nose with your hands when it is itchy. You shouldn't rub your eyes either.

In addition to surgical masks that look more like multi-layer disposable kitchen towels, there are also half-masks with real filtering effects. These are more familiar to people working in dusty environments or using aerosols. They can be used as disposable masks, usually made of strong compressed cellulose with filter elements and exhalation valves, or as plastic masks, and then inserted into a suitable filter. 

Only FFP level 3 masks can filter out enzymes and viruses. But this side has a valve-it will not protect others.

In the European Union, these types of masks are divided into three FFP protection levels (filter masks).

Although masks with a protection level of FFP1 are still superior to surgical masks, they cannot provide the required virus protection. For example, they are suitable for carpenters who use vacuum suction systems to work on band saws. Builders may wear them to catch the coarser dust that vacuum cleaners cannot. The bricklayer can put them on before mixing the cement with a trowel to raise some dust.

FFP2 masks (equivalent to other international standard N95, KN95 and P2 masks) are becoming more and more common in nursing homes and nursing homes. Germany requires them to be used during the third wave of buses, trains and supermarkets in 2021. They provide a certain degree of virus protection for the wearer, but should not be used when in contact with highly infectious patients.

In view of the temporary shortage of sanitary materials during the first coronavirus wave in 2020, the Robert Koch Institute in Germany announced at the time that if there is no FFP3, medical staff can wear FFP2 masks instead of standard FFP3 masks in case of infection. Now, for these key workers, there is no longer a shortage of high-quality masks. 

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

Effective but not for everyone: military gas masks and complete body protection.

Protection is only effective when many other protective measures are taken at the same time: strict hygiene when wearing masks, goggles, gloves and plastic aprons, proper disposal of disposable items that may be contaminated, and regular hand washing. In addition, the surrounding environment must be systematically disinfected at all times. 

Therefore, these masks are used in isolation stations along with all other protective clothing, where, for example, patients who are already infected are taken care of. 

Wearing one mask on top of the other is called a double mask. Usually, you put on a surgical mask or FFP2 mask first, and then a tight-fitting cloth mask. It is important that the cloth mask fits well and the edges are sealed. The idea behind this is to prevent air from flowing in or out of the mask.

The US Food and Drug Administration (CDC) has tested the double mask and concluded that it can reduce the risk of infection by another 95% compared with a simple mask. However, it is only effective when used continuously. Moreover, wearing a tight-fitting double-layer mask for a long time is obviously much more uncomfortable than wearing a single-face mask.

The legal requirement to wear FFP2 masks in supermarkets or public transportation may cause various problems in implementation and control.

Although FFP2 masks obviously provide better protection than surgical masks or cloth masks, this can only be achieved when used correctly. This type of mask is disposable. Even though they can be sterilized in an oven at 80 degrees Celsius (176 degrees Fahrenheit), they can only be reused a few times.

For example, the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAUA) emphasizes that repeated use is "usually not intended" and can only be indicated or used in cases of "serious shortage".

Most people may not buy a new mask every time they travel by train, bus, or go shopping-especially when the demand for masks and market shortages cause the price of already high quality masks to rise.

Many people seem to be more likely to purchase only one or a few masks to comply with formal legal obligations. Then they can wear these items for weeks or months-even if they are not disinfected, especially because it is uncontrollable. In this case, it may be more hygienic to wear a cloth mask that is cleaned frequently.  

Worker advocates will be keen to ensure that occupational health and safety are maintained.

The fact that masks have higher breathing resistance compared to simple surgical masks or fabric masks comes into play here. According to current German occupational health and safety regulations, healthy employees can only wear masks for 75 minutes at a time. After that, they have the right to rest for 30 minutes. The German Social Accident Insurance also stipulates that a personal risk assessment (which may include an occupational medical examination) is a prerequisite for the use of a particulate filter half mask.

People who suffer from diseases or disabilities such as respiratory diseases or reduced lung capacity usually cannot wear particle filter masks for medical reasons.

In addition to the three certified FFP mask types, there are other mask concepts with antiviral effects. However, if FFP2 masks become mandatory requirements in public places, these will not meet the formal regulatory requirements. Even if they are found to be effective, they lack the necessary certifications.

One such idea is to use the bactericidal effect of copper. This is also used by hospitals, where you can find copper door handles to minimize infection. A mask produced by a manufacturer uses a fine copper mesh as a filter material.

Another home use method is to spray citric acid on the face mask. Phil Sadler, a mechanical engineering expert at the Arizona Center for Controlled Environment Agriculture, promoted the idea on YouTube.

For some time, people have known that citric acid can prevent norovirus, which can cause stomach and intestinal diseases. For example, using lemon juice when eating mussels can protect people from norovirus infection.

Kimberly-Clark, a US manufacturer of hygiene products, tested citric acid-based antiviral facial tissues in the 1980s and 1990s to combat seasonal colds and flu. Sadler told Deutsche Welle that 41 years ago, he also participated as a volunteer in a related research project at the McMurdo South Pole Station. In the past 30 years, the N95 standard masks produced in the United States have also used citric acid as an antiviral agent to a certain extent. 

If the most important hygiene principles are ignored, all masks and goggles are of little use. For example, if you take a long bus or train back home, where you touch the handrails and handles, take off the mask and grab your nose, wearing a mask is meaningless.

If you spend the entire morning typing on a computer keyboard in the office, and then go to lunch without washing your hands first, you are taking a considerable risk. So, wearing a mask on a computer workstation is useless. 

Only the one in the middle can effectively resist tear gas.

Demonstrators also often wear a variety of different protective masks-from simple surgical masks to half-face masks with filters.

Surgical masks may only be effective for hiding the identities of protesters. However, when the police fired aerosol-jet tear gas, only the FFP3 filter could provide some protection. In order to prevent tear gas from entering the eyes, airtight goggles are absolutely necessary. 

Occupational safety filters in hardware stores do not provide any real protection. A full face gas mask with a military NBC filter can do this.

Of course, this also provides good virus protection. But in daily life, no one wants to move around like this.

This article was last updated on June 29, 2021.

Asbestos is a collective term for various natural silicate minerals. These include granite, anthophyllite, actinolite and chrysotile. This fiber material is popular in construction and industry because of its durability, fire resistance, and ease of processing in cement.

The iconic fine fibers of asbestos can be seen here, some of which are only three microns thick. This is a sample of chrysotile. These fibers are insoluble, so they can stay in the lungs for a long time. Decades after you inhale them, they can still cause lung cancer.

Do not saw, cut, drill, grind or break corrugated asbestos. As long as there is no contact, there is no danger of fibers being released into the air. But even cleaning is taboo. Anyone who tries to remove moss with a high-pressure cleaner is a crime against the environment and endangers their health.

Flower boxes made of fiber cement, also called Eternit or asbestos cement. Here, cement and asbestos combine to form a corrosion-resistant but toxic building material. This box can continue to be used. However, when working with a shovel or rake, be careful not to scratch the container. If you want to get rid of it, you must treat it as hazardous waste.

Professionals repaired the blocked pipe. If you encounter drainage problems with asbestos cement pipes, please do not ask for a simple plumber. In this case, strict asbestos removal regulations need to be followed-it's time to call an expert!

Today, this "Floor-Flex" panel can be found in many homes. Almost all of these contain asbestos. Here, safety can only be guaranteed through laboratory tests. So don't just tear off the panel and throw it in the trash can. Usually such floor coverings are also fixed with asbestos-containing adhesives. Note: Don't try to remove the glue yourself!

Asbestos-containing materials are often hidden under old floor coverings. If you have removed the "Floor Flex" panel and found a black bituminous adhesive, please be especially careful. The glue almost certainly contains asbestos. Never polish it yourself!

Here is the author of this gallery during the renovation of his house. The floor and ceiling must be completely removed because the beams have rotted. Does the dusty air contain asbestos? Best not to ask!

Until 1989, automobile brake linings still contained high concentrations of asbestos. Some of these brake pads may still be used in old cars today. Auto mechanics who replace brake linings and clean the brakes with air pressure are especially dangerous. Many fibers enter the air in the workshop, which is a life-threatening danger.

It may be a case of hazardous waste. Under no circumstances should you use older hair dryers, even those from the 1970s. What is the relationship between hair dryer and asbestos? This material has extremely strong heat resistance, so it is often used as a thermal insulation material in the manufacture of these ancient devices.

The design may be fashionable again, but if you want to eat toast prepared with such an elegant toaster, you'd better switch to a retro one. This will ensure that the support of the heating wire is not made of asbestos. Equipment like this shouldn’t even have a place in your antique cabinet.

Runny nose, cough, sore throat and fever: When a person begins to feel unwell, the symptoms are usually similar. This makes it difficult to determine whether the disease is a viral or bacterial infection. (05.02.2020)  

Burning barricades, batons and tear gas. Speaking of street protests, why has violence become unscrupulous so quickly? A key criterion is whether we can identify. (18.12.2019)  

Germany is considering more stringent anti-epidemic measures because the Bavarian authorities have ordered the wearing of highly protective FFP2 masks in shops and public transportation.  

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