What types of masks are there and which should I use?
The use of masks is an additional measure of protection, which must be complementary to measures of distance, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. Its use is mandatory for people over 10 years old for access, circulation or permanence in closed spaces and public roads, whenever the public distance recommended by the health authorities proves impractical. So let's talk about the different types of masks:
- Respirator (Filtering Face Piece, FFP): is personal protective equipment whose main function is to protect from inhaling particles (< 5 micrometers in size) suspended in the air (protects from contamination from the outside to the inside of the respirator). Respirators are primarily used by healthcare professionals to protect themselves, especially during aerosol generating procedures;
- Surgical mask: is a device that allows the containment of droplets (> 5 micrometers in size) that the person expels during coughing, sneezing or speaking. In addition to the function of containing expired droplets, the surgical mask also protects you from inhaling droplets, despite having less filtering capacity than respirators. These masks must be used for a maximum period of 4 to 6 hours, and must be exchanged for a new one, whenever they are damp;
- Non-surgical, community or social mask: is a device made of different textile materials, certified, intended for the general population. If they are intended for use by professionals (non-health professionals) who have frequent contact with the public, they must guarantee a minimum level of filtration of 90% (so-called level 2 community masks, professional use) and if they are intended for the population in general, they must guarantee a minimum filtration of 70% (level 3 masks, general purpose). They are used as a barrier to complement protection measures and distancing rules, but not to replace them.