Whether you are a DIY lover that enjoys performing tasks at home that could expose you to
high levels of dust, or work in a factory or mine where the air is contaminated with a high level of
particles, it is advisable to keep yourself safe and wear an FFP2 dust mask. Exposing one’s
respiratory system to unfiltered air in hazardous conditions can have negative long-term health>
In this article, we will explain what the meaning of an FFP2 mask is, its intended use, as well as
the product lifespan.
1. FFP or otherwise known as a “Filtering Face Piece”, refers to a mask that is able to filter
particles from the air in environments where the inhalation of the air could have a
negative effect on a person. The number behind the abbreviation “FFP” indicates the
level and type of protection provided by the mask. An FFP2 mask is able to a provide
protection factor of up to 10 and is able to filter up to 94% of particles from the air before
inhalation. Sufficient oxygen must be available in the surroundings (please note the
respective country’s law and regulations, for example a minimum of 17% oxygen is stipulated
in South Africa).
FFP masks can also be referred to as dust masks as they are exceptionally good at filtering a
variety of dust types. Some of the dust types that FFP2 dust masks are good at filtering include
sawdust, and metal dust as well as brick, cement, tile, and plaster dust. Some of the other
particles an FFP2 mask can filter include fungi, spores and fine paint particles.
In order to confirm the correct FFP is being used the “Occupation Exposure Limit” (OEL) must
be taken into consideration, the OEL is the acceptable time-weighted average concentration of
a hazardous substance in workplace air at which no acute or chronic harm is caused to
employees’ health. In determining this limit, it is assumed that an employee would be exposed
for eight hours per day, five days per week for the duration of their working life.
If an FFP2 dust mask is marked with an “R” it may be reused and cleaned after use for the next
shift; however, an FFP2 mask is typically not reusable. Therefore, these masks will typically not
be used for 24 hours.
The recommended length of wearability is “one shift”. A shift is typically calculated to be 8 hours
and will be marked “NR” Not reusable. This is due to the fact that the filter works by electrostatic
change. This charge wears off after a certain amount of time, which depreciates the filtering
capacity of the mask. As the mask is worn it also gradually becomes saturated with the particles
it is protecting the wearer from. Once the mask is saturated it increases the breathing
resistance, making it more uncomfortable for the wearer. Depending on the environment and
the intensity of the air contamination, it might be advisable for the wearer to make use of
multiple masks in one shift to ensure complete safety. It is important that a mask is only worn
by one individual as the sharing of masks could expose wearers to unhygienic conditions.
uvex has recently launched its respiratory mask range in South Africa. Their range includes
three variations of FFP2 masks including masks with and without respiratory valves. If you are
unsure of the type of respiratory mask you or your workers require in a certain environment, feel
free to contact uvex South Africa for more information.