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Types of Face Masks You Can Use during an Outbreak

February 1, 2020

With the Novel Coronavirus outbreak, people in the Philippines have been crazily buying masks without enough knowledge of what is the proper type of mask to fight off the virus. Whether you go to the pharmacy to queue up or buy masks online, you must be wise on which mask to buy because it could either mean your protection or your demise.

Fret not, we are here to guide you. We listed down different types of graded face masks and what it’s for.

Types of Graded Face Masks You can Use during an Outbreak

Basically, the use of surgical masks is enough to prevent the virus. We have a lot of inquiries regarding the N95 Mask but N95 is actually relatively sloppy. Under normal circumstances, you don’t need the N95. It is good to take note that the cloth or sponge masks are used to filter pollen or dust while activated carbon masks can only absorb odors. Several models have no anti-epidemic effect at all so,  surgical masks are definitely your best choice.

As for selecting surgical masks, you can use the following types of face masks standards to help you choose:

1. BFE / PFE / VFE

Face masks need to pass various filtering tests before they are launched, and their efficiency must be clearly listed on the packaging. Most masks are tested through the Nelson Laboratory Standard, and the most common BFE, PFE, and VFE on Japanese mask packaging are the results of the filtration rate test used to mark particles of different sizes in this test.

standard For particle size
Bacteria Filtration Efficiency)
3 microns
Particle Filtration Efficiency ) Particle Filtration Efficiency
0.1 micron
VFE (Virus Filtration Rate)
Virus Filtration Efficiency
0.1-5 microns
(average 2.8 microns)

What is the point of choosing between these masks? Generally, the filter rate of different masks for different particles is represented by a percentage. To effectively prevent the source of infection, it must pass the PFE test. If the mask is only BFE, it is not enough to stop the virus rack from flying, so it is recommended to buy masks if it only indicates the effectiveness of BFE. Simply speaking, when choosing a mask made in Japan, you must have at least BFE + PFE. If there are 3 tests, all the best!

2. ASTM Level

Most masks produced in the United States will have the ASTM Level. The protection strength of masks is divided into Level 1 to 3 (Level 1 being the lowest and Level 3 being the highest) Both BFE and PFE are also tested, in addition to three other criteria: Fluid Resistance to synthetic blood, Delta P (pressure difference), and Flammability.

BFE PFE Liquid resistance (mmHg) Pressure difference Flame retardant degree
Level 1 ≥95% ≥95% 80 <4.0 Class 1
Level 2 ≥98% ≥98% 120 <5.0 Class 1
Level 3 ≥98% ≥98% 160 <5.0 Class 1

The biggest difference between Level masks is the liquid resistance to synthetic blood. If you are not a front-line medical staff, the effect is not great, and the efficacy of BFE and PFE at different levels is 3%. Of course, it is best to buy Level 3. However, the second-class style is not much worse, and it must be better than products that do not specify ASTM standards.

3. KF (Korean Filter)

“KF” is a mask grade designated by the Korean Health Bureau. The 3 types of these are “KF80”, “KF94” and “KF99” which are all available in the market.

KF80: Effectively block about 80% of particles from the air with a size of 0.6 microns, can only prevent sand and air pollution particles, can not block the source of infection.
KF94: Effectively block about 94% from the air, with a size of 0.4 microns or less Fine particles and source of infection.
KF99: Effectively blocks about 99% of fine particles and source of infection from the air with a size of 0.4 microns or less.

Of course, the data will certainly want to choose the highest specification which is “KF99”, but because the price is very expensive, the Korean people generally buy “KF94”, in fact, it is enough to resist an imminent virus.

4. PM 2.5

If the mask is marked with “PM 2.5”, it means that the mask can effectively block fine suspended particles with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or more in the air. Generally, it is designed to protect against air pollution or sandstorms. It is actually not designed for the nCoV virus.

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