European testing standard for medical or protective equipment:
- EN 149:2009 Respiratory protective devices (FFP I,II,III) – Filtering half masks to protect against particles.
- EN 14683:2019 Medical face masks.
- EN 14126:2003 Protective clothing against infective agents.
- EN 14605:2009 Protective clothing against liquid chemicals - for liquid-tight (Type 3) or spray-tight (Type 4).
- EN 455-1:2000 Medical gloves for single use - Part 1-4.
- EN ISO 374-5:2017 Protective gloves against dangerous chemicals and micro-organisms.
- EN ISO 13688:2013 Protective clothing.
- EN ISO 10993-1:2009 Biological evaluation of medical devices.
Comparison of mask standard, ratings and filtration effectiveness
3M, FFP1, N95, KN95? What do mask numbers and letters mean?
The ratings cover (most importantly for us) the filtration level, among other things. You can think of them like G, PG, PG-13, R ratings for movies. The movie ratings cover who can watch them.
EN 149:2001+A1:2009 / ASTM F2100 / NIOSH
These are standards for masks. They specify the rules and testing methods companies should follow to rate their masks. These standards define the N95, FFP1, and FFP2 ratings above. Using the movie rating analogy, you can think of it like this: the people reviewing movies and choosing the appropriate movie rating must have a set of rules to decide if the movie is considered PG-13 or R. They’ll follow these rules to rate the movie. These standards are the set of rules for masks.
Why are there so many? Standards labelled “EN” are for the EU. ASTM F2100 (NIOSH) is for the US. Many other countries will have their own rating systems too.
3M is a company that manufactures masks. They generally produce masks that meet KN95 or N95 standards.
PM2.5 vs. N95
As we now know, N95 is a mask rating. PM2.5 refers to “particulate matter” or a fancy way of saying “pollution particles” that are in the air. The 2.5 refers to the size of these particles as being 2.5 microns or smaller.
SINGLE-USE FACE MASK
Single use masks (normally one layer, very thin) are typically only effective at capturing larger dust particles, but can do so fairly well.
Surgical mask standards have higher requirements for capturing virus-sized (0.1 micron) particles, however they vary by region.
Pollution masks (respirators) typically capture >90% of virus-sized particles. This includes ratings such as N95, KN95, FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3.