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Bird flu masks - FFP2

Respirators are tested to the relevant European Standards and CE marked. All respirators for sale in the EU should carry the CE mark plus the European Standard and performance category markings.

EN149 is the European Respiratory Protection Standard for disposable filtering facepiece respirators for particulates (usually dust, fumes, liquid mists although bacteria and virus are also particulates) covering the nose, mouth and chin.

FFP2 provides an Assigned Protection Factor of 10 x OEL and a Nominal Protection Factor of 12.5 x OEL. FFP2 masks provide 95% particle filtration efficiency and is the EU's close equivalent to the American NIOSH N95.

OEL stands for Occupational Exposure Limits and is the limit on the amount or concentration of a chemical to which workers may be exposed. Assigned Protection Factor - because laboratory performance may not be achievable in real use the figures are taken from BS4275 and are the minimum level of protection calculated for 95% of trained wearers using the equipment in the workplace.

Nominal Protection Factor is the minimum level of protection the equipment has to demonstrate under laboratory conditions to gain approval to the appropriate class of the performance standard. Because there are no exposure limits established for biological agents (ie bird flu virus) it is important to note that it cannot be guaranteed that choosing a disposable respirator type bird flu mask will make respiratory infection impossible.

Essentially FFP3 masks are capable of filtering out finer particles than FFP2 and can handle higher volumes of hazard. It is for this reason that most UK government agencies talk about FFP3 level filtration in relation to bird flu protection.

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