Some success at last
After doing a bit more research, we finally started coming across the types of masks the CDC and WHO were recommending, only to be met with a jumble of confusing letters and numbers. IIR, N95, FFP2, FFP3, PM2.5, KN99 — how could we tell which mask would offer the best protection?
At first glance, the Type-IIR masks stated a 98% efficiency and were referred to as ‘medical masks’. Naturally, we assumed these must offer the best protection. If medical professionals are using them, they must be the safest masks available, right? It turns out, this is not the case!
Type-IIR masks are only rated for their exhalation filtering efficiency, meaning they are certified to prevent the user from infecting those around them, but not to protect the user themselves. Although ‘98% efficiency’ sounded impressive, when we dug a little deeper and unravelled the jargon, it turned out these masks did not provide the level of protection we were looking for.
This brought us on to N95 masks, which were in very high demand at the time and sold out in most places. When we investigated the details of this type of mask, we began to realise we were on the right track. The ‘95’ in ‘N95’ stands for a 95% efficiency. This mask is tested with MPPS for both exhalation and inhalation, so we could be sure it was protecting the user and those around them. Finally, some success!
Next, we looked at FFP2 masks, which we found were essentially the EU equivalent of the American N95 masks. In Europe, we have the EC (European Commission) as our certifying body, which rates masks as FFP1, FFP2 or FFP3 based on greater than 80%, 94% or 99% MPPS filtering efficiency.