Dust mask - FFP1, FFP2, FFP3 disposable masks

A dust mask - also known as disposable mask - is a somewhat special respiratory protection equipment. Unlike conventional equipment, it is for single use and the entire face piece is made of filtering materials. This type of mask is mainly popular in dusty environments or in the presence of toxic substances such as viruses (avian flu, H1N1, Coronavirus, etc.) or bacteria (mainly for FFP3 versions).

The EN149: 2001 standard defines 3 protection classes (FFP1, FFP2 or FFP3) based on the maximum penetration value of the media inside the mask, or based on the proportion of particles that the disposable mask lets through. The FFP3 class being the most effective, a FFP3 dust mask is of course to be preferred!

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How to choose a dust mask

FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 dust masks

FFP (Facepiece Filtering Particules) Disposable dust masks are air purifying devices used both by professionals and private individuals against fine particles, solids or liquids, viruses and bacteria.The 2001 update of the EN149 standard defines 3 eficiency classes based on the maximum penetration value through the device, or the proportion of particles that the mask lets pass:

  • FFP1 mask: stops at least* 78% of particles
  • FFP2 mask: stops at least* 92% des particules
  • FFP3 mask: stops at least* 98% des particules

* All available FFP masks on our website are way over this standard, offering form 94% for FFP2 masks up to 99.97% for FFP3 masks.

Disposable mask with exhalation valve

For respiratory comfort and hygiene, the exhalation valve is very important. It allows proper evacuation of hot and moist exhaled air, thus avoiding heat accumulation and condensation. That way the user can stay in a cool environment.

FFP1 dust masks

It is the first level of protection (stops 78% of particles minimum), they are more suitable against dust and particles of intermediate sizes such as silica, coal, soft wood or filings of iron metals. They are suitable for DIY and occasional small dusty woodwork jobs .

Activity sectorActivityType of particles
Crafts, DIY, handiworkMiscellaneous worksCWood chips, metals, dust and fibers
ConstructionFoundations, concrete handling, insulation workConcrete dust, fiberglass
Metal processingSawing, drillingMetallurgical dust
Metal processingDrillingMetallurgical dust

FFP2 dust masks

It is the intermediate level of protection (stops 92% of particles at least), they are more suitable against fine particles such as sanding dust (wood, metals), fog and aerosol paint and some mushroom pores. They are particularly popular in sandblasting, grinding and spraying applications.

Classic FFP2 dust masks

Activity sectorActivityType of particles
WoodworkingSanding, paint strippingFine particles, wood dust Fine paint particles
Metal treatmentStripping, grinding, sanding, soldering, welding, paintingRust, corrosion and metal dust, sand and dust, welding fumes, paint particles, spray varnish
Construction / demolitionBuildingMetallurgical dust
Metal treatmentDrillingDust from concrete, plaster, rock wool and tiles, fine dust from plaster

FFP2 odor-free masks

The FFP2 version (intermediate protection blocks a minimum 92% of particles) with an additional layer of activated carbon is able to trap organic vapor smells.

Activity sectorActivityType of particles
CraftswoodworkingGlues, paint, varnish, aerosols
Waste disposalDusty environments cleaning, floor sweeping, waste & wastewater disposalSmelling dusts, bacteria, fungi

FFP3 masks

It is the highest level of protection (stops a minimum 98% of particles), they are ideal against very fine particles like asbestos (level 1), ceramic fibers, viruses (avian flu, H1N1 flu, etc.) and bacteria. They are popular for all work generating very fine particles (asbestos removal, medical waste, metallurgical fumes, etc.). It is the most effective protection class and therefore to be preferred.

Activity sectorActivityType of particles
WoodworkingWood coloring (dye containing copper or chromium)Paint mist
Construction, miningZinc, aluminum, stainless steel, manual arc weldingMetallurgical oxide fumes
Waste disposalMedical wasteVirus, bacteria
Mushrooms
EpidemicsPersonal protectionVirus, bacteria
Mushrooms

Disposable dust mask usage restrictions

Even if a dust mask offers a very interesting protection / comfort / price ratio, it only protects its user against particles. It thus cannot be worn if gases or vapors are present in the concerned atmosphere. In this case, the user must select a half mask with combined gas and particle filters.

Beyond concentrations over 30 times the OEL (occupational exposure limit value), the efficiency of a FFP3 disposable mask is compromised. User shall then select a powered air purifying respirator or a mask with a filter cartridge. Lastly, if the nature of the pollutant and/or the oxygen rate in ambient air is unknown, every air purifying protective equipment is to be avoided and replaced by an atmosphere supplying respiratory protection..