What are the characteristics of protective masks against COVID-19?

Masque de Protection Coronavirus

When coughing, sneezing or speaking, each individual emits droplets of varying sizes.

If a person is sick with COVID-19, these droplets can contain viral particles that can then potentially infect other people. These droplets are an important vector of transmission of the coronavirus.

It is to avoid this that the use of masks is essential and has been gradually imposed by the public authorities. 

The barrier role of the protective mask

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A mask should provide a physical barrier that protects the environment from the droplets that the user expels. 

In addition, a protective mask should also prevent the wearer from inhaling contaminated droplets from outside.

The larger droplets are intercepted at the entrance to the mask. The medium-sized droplets will follow the air between the mask fabric fibers and by inertia collide with these fabric fibers and stop. Finally, the finest droplets collide with the air molecules around them and eventually be thrown against the fabric fibers and stop.

The filtration role of the protective mask

Certain masks (in particular the FFP2 masks) also allow filtration of the inspired air and the expired air. However, the masks also allow breathing without requiring a very significant effort for its wearer.

If the fibers are too tight, the air will not pass through the filter material, but will pass through any gap between the mask and the skin, as it will follow the path with the least resistance. It is therefore essential that the mask is properly adjusted to the face and that the filtering material meets these two criteria of filtration efficiency and air permeability.

What are the types of protective masks?

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Protective masks are of two types: masks for medical use and masks for non-medical use.

The first category, masks that can be used for medical purposes, include FFP2 masks and surgical masks. FFP2 masks filter in the inspired air of users, at least 94% of droplets with a size between 0.01 and 1 µm. They also limit the projection of expired droplets into the environment. Surgical masks are primarily intended to retain droplets emitted during exhalation, but can also act as a barrier against those contained in inspired air. Type 1 and 2 masks filter respectively 95 and 98% of the droplets emitted, the size of which is between 1 and 3 µm. Moistening masks decreases their filtration efficiency over time. Thus, the maximum duration of use is 8 hours for FFP2 masks and 4 hours for surgical masks.

The second category, masks for non-medical use, correspond to barrier masks for the general public (in fabric) are intended for non-medical use, washable and reusable, they complement physical distancing and barrier gestures and mainly reduce the risk. of droplets to the outside. Two categories of general public masks have been defined: category 1 masks which filter 90% of 3µm droplets and category 2 masks which filter 70%.

Criterion of choice of a protective mask

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The quality of a barrier mask depends on the material used which must allow a good balance between filtration efficiency and breathability.

For example, with regard to homemade masks, a mask made of a layer of microfiber will not allow good breathability and one made of 2 layers of jersey will not allow good filtration. To create your own mask, it is better to favor, for example, 2 layers of cotton fabric with 1 layer of fleece mesh in the center. The maximum use time of barrier masks is 4 hours, but fabric masks are washable and can therefore be reused after washing in the washing machine.

Regarding the masks that we buy, the European standards are there precisely to allow everyone to equip themselves with a protective mask that meets the criteria of breathability and protection.

What is the most effective protective mask?

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In conclusion, FFP type masks are the most effective in protecting the wearer of the mask. Officially, they are intended primarily for health personnel and are not indicated for the general population. However, they are now widely available and there is no longer a risk of shortage.

Surgical masks are effective in protecting people in the wearer's environment. They can be used by COVID-19 patients and the general population. They also play a barrier role to protect the wearer, this barrier role being however much lower than that of an FFP2 mask, which is much more effective in protecting its wearer.

Finally, fabric barrier masks, despite lower filtration efficiency, limit particulate emissions when people have to move around in confined spaces. They also prevent hand contact with the mouth and nose.

In general, whatever the type of protective mask, all these masks must be handled as little as possible, because the risk is then to contaminate yourself by touching them. It is therefore essential to respect meticulous hand hygiene in addition, these are the famous "barrier gestures" so promoted by the public authorities.


Our online store Achat-Masque-FFP2.fr offer you lots of FFP2 masks certified to comply with European standards in order to provide you with the most effective protection tool against the coronavirus, a tool used by doctors and nursing staff. The delivery is fast, in addition to being offered for all your orders. And of course, do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, we will answer you with pleasure (you can contact us from the button at the bottom left of our home page Achat-Masque-FFP2.fr).

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