What is the Difference Between a FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 Face Masks Respirators?

What is the Difference Between a FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 Face Masks Respirators?

Posted by The Face Mask Store on 1st Apr 2020

FFP means The “filtering face piece” and the following number is the score. This score comes from the EN standard 149:2001, a standard maintained by CEN ( European Committee for Standardization ).

In simple terms, the FFP3 and FFP2 are the "gold standard" for face protection and offer the highest protection level, FFP1 offers less but by no means the least.

In certain cirumstances the FFP2 may be as good as a FFP3 (see below for more details)

What does FFP3 mean?

The masks that offer the highest level of protection are FFP3 such as this 3M FFP3 Respirator, over both FFP2 and FFP1 masks.

  • Protects against higher levels of dust.
  • Protects against solid and liquid aerosols.
  • Higher protection than FFP1, and FFP2.
  • Can be used for handling hazardous powders such as those in the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Recommended when in doubt of protection needed.
  • OEL: Protects against materials in concentrations 50x limit.
  • APF: Protects against materials in concentrations 20x limit.
  • Can be used as an Asbestos mask

Current NHS guidelines outlined here, stipulate that these FFP3 masks should be worn:

  • When a patient is known/suspected to have an infection spread via the aerosol route.
  • When caring for patients known/suspected to be infected with a newly identified infectious respiratory virus

What does FFP2 Mean?

An FFP2 face mask such as this 3M FFP2 Respirator mask offers higher protection over an FFP1 but not a FFP3 (but see the end of the artcle for exact details on that)

  • Protects against moderate levels of dust.
  • Protects against solid and liquid aerosols.
  • Higher protection than FFP1
  • Can be used for plastering and sanding.
  • OEL: Protects against materials in concentrations 12x limit.
  • APF: Protects against materials in concentrations 10x limit.

The equivalent USA standard to the FFP2 mask is the N95 face mask, arguably the most commonly discussed respirator type. This is an American standard managed by NIOSH – part of the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

What does FFP1 Mean?

An FFP1 mask will offer protection, however not to the level of a FFP2 or FFP3.

FFP1 masks will filter at least 80% of particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter or larger.

  • Protects against low levels of dust.
  • Protects against solid and liquid aerosols.
  • Can be used for hand sanding, drilling, and cutting.
  • OEL: Protects against materials in concentrations 4x limit.
  • APF: Protects against materials in concentrations 4x limit.

But don't be put off thinking FFP1 protection is not enough, it can be a good option, its just not quite up to the FFP2 and FFP3 protection levels.

Smartfilters.com have a great article on this subject, citing research showing that the respirators tested could filter down to 0.007 microns. For example an FFP1 rated mask such as this one we have was according to smartfilters test able to filter 96.6% of particles 0.007 microns or larger. Suggesting FFP2 or FFP3 would achieve even greater filtration.

Why would I chose FFP2 over FFP3?

It is crucial to understand that these FFP 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%.

Whilst an FFP3 Mask will filter at least 99% of particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter or larger.



*DISCLAIMER - We accept no responsiblity or liability, whereby people use this information to claim their protective respirator face mask will prevent any future and/or unforseen health conditions (i.e contracting any viruses, illnesses or diseases). This information is for general knowledge and a discussion point only.