Respiratory masks for protection against coronavirus
Particle-filtering half masks of the FFP2 type have been in use as personal protective equipment for decades, but their relevance in infection protection only came into public focus during the pandemic. When used correctly and under the appropriate environmental conditions, FFP2 masks can actually guarantee greater protection for oneself as well as others in comparison to medical masks or simple mouth and nose protection. This is the main reason why the latest CoronaVO Studienbetrieb provides for an obligation to wear an FFP2 mask inside closed rooms from "Warnstufe" or higher. We try to answer the most frequently asked questions here.
Do masks really protect?
Yes, whether mouth and nose protection, medical mask or higher quality, experience during the pandemic has shown that masks can protect both others and yourself if worn correctly:
Do FFP2 masks really protect better than medical masks?
To answer this question, the Max Planck Society has published a detailed study. In their theoretical model, they examined various scenarios and, with their infection risk model, came to the conclusion that wearing masks drastically reduces the risk of infection, and that this effect is even more pronounced when FFP2 masks are worn:
Do you have to take a health test to wear an FFP2 mask?
Yes and no. In contrast to medical mouth and nose protection (surgical masks), FFP2 masks fall under personal protective equipment (group 1 breathing apparatus). The higher filter performance goes hand in hand with a higher breathing resistance, but this is usually not a concern for healthy people. The employer is obliged to inform all employees who have to wear FFP2 masks in their working environment on the correct use and he has to offer occupational health care. Anyone who has known health impairments (especially in the area of the cardiovascular system) or shows skin reactions or allergic reactions when wearing a mask should definitely make use of this health care examination and consult a doctor. Existing health complaints are addressed during preventive occupational health care checkups and it is checked whether an FFP2 mask can be worn trouble-free. In addition, information about the correct use of the FFP2 mask is part of this discussion and reference is made to the wearing breaks ().
How to wear an FFP2 mask correctly?
The RKI has provided a range of helpful information on this, including videos on how to put on respiratory masks correctly:
Do men have to shave?
Yes. Full protection with an FFP2 mask is only guaranteed if the mask fits properly on the face. The air can flow past beard hair almost unhindered, the protective effect of the FFP2 mask is sometimes significantly reduced. The American CDC has published an information board (in English) to help determine which facial hair affects the filtering effect of masks and which does not: