In order to avoid confusion in the current covid era, I have been asking producers and traders for further info about different type of masks and standards, the following is from a supplier friend Simon from China.

“Recently we received a lot of inquiry about face mask. But we find many buyers are not clear about the accurate definition and difference between FFP mask and KN95 or N95 mask. I hope to write this post to explain.

Let us start to introduce from the implementation standards of masks in Europe. The standard of EU masks divide the granular protection filtration into two types: solid particle protection and liquid particle protection. What does that mean? That is, the standard of the European masks is using two kinds of particles- solid and liquid to test the penetration rate of NaCL (sodium chloride) and DOP (paraffin oil) aerosols. According to the permeability rate, mask is classified into respectively: FFP1, FFP2, FFP3. In other words, it is divided into P1 (FFP1), P2 (FFP2), P3 (FFP3) 3 grades.

FFP1 mask minimum filtration efficiency ≥80%, FFP2 minimum filtration efficiency ≥94%, FFP3 minimum filtration efficiency ≥97%. FFP masks are used to filter harmful substances of oily particulates and non-oily particulates. These harmful substances usually include: harmful aerosols, as well as dust, smoke, mist, toxic gas and toxic vapors, etc.

In horizontal comparison, which one of FFP1 mask, FFP2 mask, FFP3 mask and KN95 mask (N95 mask) is better? First of all, we should understand the standard of KN95 and N95. N95 is American standard as to non-oily particles filtration mask, KN95 is the China standard. These two can be understood as the same, but in fact, such as China mask standard, KN is not the only type. There is also KP type. KN is used to filter non-oily particles. KN95 and N95 belong to this type. KP type is to filter oily particles, mainly used for industrial protection. Based on sodium chloride particles filtration ability, KN type can be further divided into KN90 (≥90.0%), KN95 (≥95.0%), and KN100 (≥99.97%).

We can find that FFP mask includes both non-oily particles and oily particles filtration requirement. That is to say, FFP standard masks actually have protection for non-oily particulates and oily aerosols. But KN95 or N95 only has filtration protection of non-oily particles. KP type can support oily protection.

FFP2 efficiency is ≥94%, and KN95/N95 efficiency is ≥95.0%. Can we say KN95 is better than FFP2? No! Remember FFP2 contains both 2 type filtration of non-oily NaCL (sodium chloride) and oily DOP (paraffin oil) aerosol. KN95 can only filter non-oily particles(NaCL) So the conclusion should be FFP2> KN95 = N95.

FFP2 requires oily and non-oily efficiency both ≥94%. KN95/N95 only requires non-oily particles ≥95.0%. FFP2 is different with KN95/N95!

Remember to ask what is the filtration efficiency of oily particles if you want FFP2 mask instead of KN95/N95. But please also notice pricing of FFP2 is higher than KN95/N95 at the same time.”