Disposable Face Mask & Application Guide

European standard EN 149 defines the following classes of “filtering half masks” (also called “filtering face pieces”), that is respirators that are entirely or substantially constructed of filtering material:

Class Filter penetration limit (at 95 L/min air flow) Inward leakage
FFP1 Filters at least 80% of airborne particles <22%
FFP2 Filters at least 94% of airborne particles <8%
FFP3 Filters at least 99% of airborne particles <2%

Both European standard EN 143 and EN 149 test filter penetration with both dry sodium chloride and paraffin oil aerosols, after storing the filters at 70 °C and -30 °C for 24 h each. The standards also include tests on mechanical strength, breathing resistance and clogging. EN 149 also tests the inward leakage between the mask and face (ten human subjects perform five exercises each and for eight of these individuals the average measured inward leakage listed above must not be exceeded).

FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 are different classes of respirator; they offer different levels of wearer protection. Simply put, the higher the protection factor the better the reduction to the airborne contaminant. FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 respirators can reduce the amount of dust you breathe by factors of 4, 10 and 20 respectively.

It is important to consider the type and level of contaminants to which workers will be exposed. Once you have properly evaluated the airborne hazards in the workplace, you can begin to choose dust masks based on their FFP rating. The best dust mask for your workplace will be one that meets the appropriate FFP rating, and is comfortable and convenient for your workers.

Finding a suitable respirator is not just a matter of choosing a model you like or by the cost of it. You may need to try different makes or sizes to find one that fits without leaking around the seal and letting dust in. A respirator that depends on face fit is ineffectual if you have a beard or thick beard stubble. The only way you can know if the seal is good enough is by having a proper respirator fit test. At present this is also the only way of meeting legal requirements.

You should discard disposable respirators at the end of the shift or sooner if they are heavily contaminated. Never hang up a respirator in a dusty place for use later on.

This table is only an guide to the filter class that can be selected for a particular activitiy. It should not be used as the only means of selecting the appropriate disposable face mask for use.

If you have any questions about which filter you need please contact us on 09064 21564 / 21578 for advice.

Activity Type of Particles Filter Class
Brush applied adhesives Organic vapour FFP2 Carbon
Brush applied paints Organic vapour FFP2 Carbon
Coolant mist emissions Fine mist FFP3
Finishing cured epoxy resign Particles FFP3
Fueling vehicles Organic vapour FFP2 Carbon
Lead sanding Particles FFP3
Lead welding Particles and metal fume FFP3
Polyester resin hand mixing Organic vapour FFP3
Polyester resin sanding Particles FFP3
Rubbing down paintwork Particles FFP3
Spot welding Particles and metal fume FFP3
Stainless Steel Welding Metal fumes and ozone FFP2 Carbon
Site Preparation - Cutting / riveting Particles FFP2
Site Preparation - Demolition / groundwork General dust / concrete dust and pigeon excreta FFP3
Site Construction - Grinding Particles FFP2
Site Construction - Scabbing / shot creating Concrete FFP3
Site Construction - Tunneling Soil / clay (general dust) FFP3
Site Completion - Plastering Particles FFP3
Site Completion - Welding Welding fume / ozone FFP2 Carbon
Site Completion - Woodworking Softwood / Hardwood / MDF FFP3
Paint Removal - Abrasive sanding Particles FFP3
Paint Removal - Impact stripping Particles FFP3
Painting - Water based-brush / roller / spraying Large paint droplets FFP3
Sanding - Concrete and plaster Particles FFP3
Sanding - Filler Particles FFP3
Sanding - Paint Particles FFP2 Carbon
Sanding - Plastics Particles FFP3
Sanding - Rust removal Particles FFP3
Sanding - Softwood / hardwood Particles FFP3
Surface Pressure Cleaning - High pressure water Water mist FFP3
Food & Beverage
Flour Production
Flour bagging Flour dust FFP3
Grain Handling Grain dust FFP3
Milling (grinding down from wheat) Flour dust FFP3
Silos / flour lofts / stores / production Flour dust FFP3
Bakeries-Ingredients / Dispensing
Bag opening and tipping Flour dust FFP3
Dough mixing Flour dust FFP3
Filling up flour dusters on production lines Flour dust FFP3
Filling vats / hoppers Flour dust FFP3
Sampling for QA / lab work Flour dust FFP2
Sieving-mechanical Flour dust FFP3
Surface dusting Flour dust FFP3
Weighing and dispensing Flour dust FFP3
Dispensing ingredients Flour dust FFP3
Mixers / roll plants Flour dust FFP3
Silos / flour lofts / stores / production Flour dust FFP3
Dispensing / handling Grain / Malt dust FFP3
Filtration Diatomaceous earth FFP3
General Food Processing
Dockyards / Bulk grain handling Grain dust FFP3
Fish farms-shellfish preparation Protein mist FFP3
Fish farms-fish gutting and preparation Protein mist FFP3
Food processing-grinding / handling / weighing / mixing Spice particles FFP3
Food processing-handling / weighing / mixing Food additives (enzymes) FFP3
Local Authority
Direct Labour Departments and Garage Workshops
Clutch and brake fitting - FFP3
Welding - FFP2 Carbon
Cleaning flues etc (not oxygen deficient atmosphere) - FFP3
Asbestos Squads
Asbestos inspection (not stripping) - FFP3
Hardwood / softwood dusts and MDG - FFP3
Varnishes and wood treatments - FFP2 Carbon
Cutting slabs - FFP3
Loft work (man made mineral fibres/glass fibre) - FFP3
Soot removal - FFP3
Housing Departments
Cleaning properties e.g. after fires - FFP3
Clearing properties (bird excreta) - FFP3
Infestation Squads
Water based spray - FFP3
Planning Departments
Model making - FFP3
Museums / Art Galleries
Dust hazards-Taxidermy and general dust - FFP3
Stone Grinding - FFP3
Brightwork welding Metal fume & ozone FFP2 Carbon
Glassfibre sanding Particulate FFP3
GRP polishing Particulate FFP3
Metal grinding Particulate FFP3
Wood sanding Particulate FFP3
Any process With either leading or non leading paint FFP2 Carbon
Arc air gouging Mild Steel FFP3
Flux core Mild Steel FFP3
Flux core Stainless steel / Aluminium / Copper Galvanised zinc / Cadmium plate and Ozone FFP2 Carbon
Gas welding Any metal FFP3
MIG/MAG Mild Steel FFP3
MMA Mild Steel FFP3
MMA Stainless steel / Aluminium / Copper Galvanised zinc / Cadmium plate and Ozone FFP2 Carbon
TIG Mild Steel FFP3
TIG Stainless steel / Aluminium / Copper Galvanised zinc / Cadmium plate and Ozone FFP2 Carbon
Metal Working
Brush applied adhesives Solvent vapour FFP2 Carbon
Brush applied paint Solvent vapour FFP2 Carbon
Finishing Particles FFP3
Finishing cured epoxy resins Particles FFP3
Grinding Particles FFP3
Machining Fluids (Oil, mist) FFP3
Molten Metal Handling Fine particles & metal fume FFP3
Polishing Particles FFP3
Polyester resign-hand mixing Particles and solvent vapour FFP3
Powder coating Particles FFP3
Rubbing Down Particles FFP3
Hardwoods, Soft woods and MDF - Cutting Particles FFP3
Hardwoods, Soft woods and MDF - Routing Particles FFP3
Hardwoods, Soft woods and MDF - Sanding Particles FFP3
Paint Removal - Abrasive stripping Particles FFP3
Paint Removal - Impact stripping Particles FFP3
Surface Coatings - Water based paint-brush / roller Mist and solvent vapour FFP2 Carbon
Timber Treatment - Water based containing copper or chrome Mist and solvent vapour FFP2 Carbon