With the novel coronavirus outbreak globally, many people are understandably concerned about their health and safety.
In this post we’ll look at the difference between masks, respirators, and filtering standards such as N95 and FFP2/FFP3…
Masks vs Respirators
Before we go any further, lets just clarify on a technical difference between a “mask” and a “respirator”. In day to day language we often say mask, when referring to what are technically called respirators.
Uses for Masks:
Masks are loose fitting, covering the nose and mouth
Designed for one way protection, to capture bodily fluid leaving the wearer
Example – worn during surgery to prevent coughing, sneezing, etc on the vulnerable patient
Contrary to belief, masks are NOT designed to protect the wearer
The vast majority of masks do not have a safety rating assigned to them (e.g. NIOSH or EN)
Uses for Respirators:
Respirators are tight fitting masks, designed to create a facial seal
Non-valved respirators provide good two way protection, by filtering both inflow and outflow of air
These are designed protect the wearer (when worn properly), up to the safety rating of the mask
Available as disposable, half face or full face
Whilst surgical style masks are not redundant by any means (discussed more below), they aren’t designed to protect the wearer, whilst respirators are.
The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) cites the N95 respirator standard as part of the advised protective equipment in their Covid-19 FAQ and their SARS guidance (SARS being a similar type of Corona virus). Which suggests that an N95 or better respirator is acceptable.
N95 vs FFP3 & FFP2
The most commonly discussed respirator type is N95. This is an American standard managed by NIOSH – part of the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Europe uses two different standards. The “filtering face piece” score (FFP) comes from EN standard 149:2001. Then EN 143 standard covers P1/P2/P3 ratings. Both standards are maintained by CEN (European Committee for Standardization).
Let’s see how all the different standards compare:
As you can see, the closest European equivalent to N95 are FFP2 / P2 rated respirators, which are rated at 94%, compared to the 95% of N95.
Similarly, the closest to N100 are P3 rated respirators – with FFP3 following closely behind.
You could approximate things to say:
KN95 vs N95
Whilst theoretically the Chinese KN95 standard has the same specification as N95 respirators – see 3M document (link) – to quote “it is reasonable to consider China KN95, AS/NZ P2, Korea 1st Class, and Japan DS FFRs as equivalent to US NIOSH N95 and European FFP2 respirators”. In practice the issue is more complex, and I wouldn’t take for granted that all KN95 respirators are up to the same standard as US N95 or EU FFP2 respirators.
Things to watch out for:
No guarantee that all KN95 respirators *actually* meet the Chinese KN95 standard – watch out for scams
Also check to make sure there’s a good seal around face / some padding for comfort / tie around face straps with adequate strength and tension
Are N95/N100 actually better than FFP2/P3?
Not neccessarily, it’s important to note that these standards only specify the minimum % of particles that the respirator filters. For example, if a mask is FFP2 rated, it will filter at least 94% of particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter or larger. But in practice it will filter somewhere between 94% and 99%. The precise figure will often be quoted by the manufacturer in the product description.
A good example is the GVS Elipse respirator, which in the USA (link) is rated at P100 (99.7%), and in Europe (link) is rated at P3 (99.95%). In practice it’s likely to have the same filtering capacity in both regions.
One hack to protect (and respect) others when wearing a valved respirator is to put a surgical mask or “cloth face covering” over the valved respirator, to (partially) filter the out breath.
How big is the Coronavirus, and can respirators filter it?
TL;DR – yes, respirators with high efficiency at 0.3 micron particle size (N95/FFP2 or better) can in theory filter particles down to the size of the coronavirus (which is around 0.1 microns). What that doesn’t tell us is how much protection respirators will provide against coronavirus when in use – we will need to wait for future studies to confirm.
iBuyPPE is a stocking distributor for bulk quantities of Personal Protective Equipment including FDA, CE, and NIOSH certified Face Masks. We ship from our US warehouse and do not require TT advance terms. Next day shipping on items in stock. For more information visit www.ibuyppe.com
With record new cases of Covid-19 in the US and Globally, and flu season right around the corner, iBuyPPE, a division of iBuyXS LLC, today announced a new, factory-direct relationship with it’s partner company to be the direct importer of 20 Million boxes of Nitrile gloves per week.
The Nitrile Glove market has become a farce with broker chains and broken promises. We decided to establish a factory-direct link to ensure guaranteed delivery”
John Pallazola, CMO iBuyPPE
The Nitrile glove market has become a modern-day gold rush with a cacophony of pseudo-businesspeople, scammers, and brokers all looking to make millions off of a single deal. Countless hours, days, and forfeited deposits have quickly made glove transaction risk and complexity rival those of cryptocurrency in its worst times.
With iBuy’s new factory alliance, and straight-forward approach, creditworthy customers can simply place a PO and then pay in full once the goods arrive in the US after their overseas shipping. No Risk, no loss of capital. Guaranteed delivery.
For more info and remaining allocation schedules visit iBuyPPE. iBuyXS is registered on Sam.Gov
St. Pete, F.L., April 22, 2020– iBuyXS, engaged in international trade for the past 23 years, has joined the battle against Covid-19. After seeing headline after headline about the severe shortage of PPE, especially disposable face masks, in the US, senior management made the decision to create a new arm of the company dedicated to getting masks to the US.
iBuyPPE recognized an immediate need where they can potentially help support critical demand for emergency supplies. This enhancement to the company is an effort to help fill local and USA demand. No products will be sold outside of the US.
IBuyPPE has 100,000 FDA/CE Certified Disposable 3-Ply Face Masks in stock and can ship today from here in the USA. We have continual shipments scheduled of at least 100k units weekly.
iBuyPPE is a stocking distributor for bulk quantities of Personal Protective Equipment including FDA, CE, and NIOSH certified PPE. We ship from our US warehouse and do not require TT advance terms. IBuyPPE is located in St. Pete Florida.
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We have New shipments of FDA and CE certified masks coming into stock all the time. No TT in advance. No worries about parts stuck in Customs in China or the US. Currently inbound to us is the following:
50,000 FDA/CE Certified ≥ 95% Filtering Face Masks
We have a factory commitment to us of up to 100K units per day on a scheduled basis. We pay the deposit, set up the schedule, clear customs via our freight forwarder and ship directly from our logistics point in the US to your facility.
We also have available the following:
N95 CE, FDA, and/or NIOSH / KN95 CE / Face Shields / Gloves / Hand Sanitizer
We can ship out this coming Monday up to 50,000 pieces from Chicago.