Pros and Cons of Surgical and FFP3 Masks - Uses and Benefits
A shortage of PPE supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic has recently raised questions about our preparedness. Surgical and FFP3 Masks were two of such basic protective equipment that ran short on the count. How are Surgical & FFP3 respirators useful, and what are their limitations? Pros and Cons of Surgical and FFP3 Masks evaluate further facts.
Uses and Benefits of Surgical Mask
A surgical mask (face mask) is also used as a procedure mask during medical procedures and surgeries. This protective covering is categorized in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Principally used by healthcare providers, this facial covering helps you contain the airborne contaminants and liquid particles away in patients or non-infected persons.
Uses of Surgical Masks
- As a patient, you need to wear a surgical mask to avoid spreading the virus. Do remember that a barrier created between your face and other people keeps them secure from external infection.
- Surgeons and Nurses wear it while performing procedures or dealing with patients so as to prevent an escape of droplets into a patient's system.
- Droplets produced by coughing, talking, or sneezing can reach up to a meter or a meter, and a half before depositing on the surface, a surgical mask helps contain such droplets.
Benefits (pros) of Surgical Masks
- Procedure masks protect others from possible infection by a patient or infected person.
- There is a very high risk of contamination when a sick person finds themselves at a very short distance from the healthy ones.
- This protective face covering is one of the highly recommended pieces of equipment for patients who go outside or visit places that are prone to spread contagion.
- Surgical Masks act as a powerful filter for the outgoing particles.
Limitations or cons of using Surgical Masks
Many people have misconceptions about the uses of surgical masks for incoming dust and contaminant particles. People believe that surgical Masks protect you from breathing in airborne bacteria or viruses.
- Fact: Medical masks are designed to protect others from the droplets produced from your mouth either by coughing or sneezing.
- These facial coverings are not recommended to be used by healthy people as a medical mask only doesn’t protect against the incoming virus or bacteria. Inefficacy to filter incoming particles is one of the concerning risks of using surgical masks.
- The edges of surgical masks are loosely-fitted around the nose and mouth hence not providing as effective protection as N95 or FFP3 masks.
- Medical Masks are single-use equipment. After 2-3 hours of use, it must be changed because the steam emitted by breathing and the viral load eventually collect on the inside.
Uses and Benefits of FFP3 Mask
Uses of FFP3 Mask
The filtering facepiece particulate respirator mask is also known as a respiratory protection mask or respirator. It is certified by the European Union to be used in the medical and health sectors. An FFP3 respirator mask protects against particulates such as dust particles and different airborne viruses.
FFP3 works exactly opposite to that of surgical masks. This half-face mask is used to cover the chin, nose, and mouth depending on filtering efficiency standards (FFP1 with <22% inward leakage, FFP2 with<8% with inward leakage rate, and FFP3 with<2% internal leakage rate).
This protective equipment is commonly used in Laboratories to avoid contact with harmful chemicals and hospitals as a breathing mask preventing incoming infectious pollutants.
Benefits (pros) of FFP3 Masks
- FFP3 respirator masks are more effective than surgical masks at protecting from outside virulent infections.
- Since FFP3 masks (99% filtering capacity) are better than N95 (95% filtering capacity) masks, general people can also use it.
- The edges are tightly fitted and guard against incoming solid and liquid agents.
- These coverings are highly recommended for healthy people as it keeps you away from dirt and infectious elements while inhaling.
- A tight covering around the chin, nose, and mouth seals the area properly, assuring no leakage of aerosols or gaseous particles inside the respiratory tract.
Limitations or Cons of Using FFP3 Masks
- Though FFP3 masks come with the best air-filtering mechanism, these respirators are effective at containing the droplets produced from coughing or sneezing.
- The plastic piece on the front of these masks is not a filter but a valve that opens when you breathe out letting the unfiltered air go through it.
- These respirators have very thick filter layers and a higher resistance, which can make breathing more difficult for people with chronic illnesses.
- If not used correctly, the mask itself can become more dangerous than protective.
The Bottom Line
Both surgical and FFP3 masks have their uses and limitations specific to the conditions. You must also consider using the right protective equipment depending on your status as improper disposal can lead to infection.