A filtering face piece (FFP) respirator mask is a type of respiratory protective equipment (RPE). RPE is designed to protect the wearer from respiratory hazards including dusts, mists and fumes. FFP masks are disposable and therefore should be disposed of at the end of your shift or even sooner if they become heavily soiled.
As the name suggests, the entire face piece is the filtering media. This is different from other types of masks where appropriate filters must also be used in combination. The mask works on a negative pressure principle and it is therefore very important that it fits your face correctly, so a seal can be achieved between the mask and your skin. You can read more on fit testing here.
In the EU, FFP masks are certified according to the standard EN149:2001. Within this, there are three classes of protection (against solid and water-based particulates). In short, the higher the FFP number = the better protection the mask provides. And furthermore, the different class of FFP mask offer differing assigned protection factors (APF). The APF is an indication of how well the mask will protect the wearer and by what factor the mask reduces concentration of the hazardous substance being breathed in.
- FFP1 – APF = 4
- FFP2 – APF = 10
- FFP3 – APF = 20
When selecting the most appropriate FFP mask for your workplace, you will need to know:
What the concentration of the hazard is & what the workplace exposure Limit (WEL) of your hazard is (this is the allowable concentration of hazardous substance that is allowed in the air). The APF that the mask provides should bring the concentration of the hazard to below the WEL. For example, hazard A is present in the air at a concentration of 70mg/m3 however its WEL is 10mg/m3. Therefore a mask with an APF of greater than 7 is required.
As well as coming in different protection levels, there are also a number of styles of FFP masks and this includes cup shape or folded and valved or unvalved. It is very important to consult with a trained health and safety advisor when determining the most appropriate PPE for your application.
You can browse the Camlab range of disposable masks here. Please contact us on 01954 233 120 if you have any questions.
Read more on the government HSE website here.