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Covid-19 Protection: What Are N95 and FFP Masks?

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

To understand which masks are suitable for your organization, you need to know the difference between the main types.

Surgical masks

Surgical masks, also called medical masks, are disposable products that have two main purposes. First, they protect the wearer from contact with droplets that may contain the virus. Second, they prevent coming in contact with large particles in the air. According to one scientific study published in Nature in April 2020, surgical masks could prevent transmission of human coronaviruses and influenza viruses from symptomatic individuals.

N95 masks (FFP2 in Europe)

N95 masks, or the equivalent FFP2 masks in Europe, are superior to surgical masks because they can protect the wearer from both large and small droplets. These masks are capable of filtering out up to 95% of airborne particles.

Cloth masks

Cloth masks are reusable and can help reduce the spread of Covid-19 by people who are infected but don’t know it yet. These masks should include multiple layers of fabric for higher effectiveness. Many authorities, including the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), advocate the use of cloth masks.

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