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    Which protective mask is the best?

    Wearing a protective mask or “community mask”, as the federal government calls it, has been mandatory for several weeks in public transport and in shops. In addition, it is recommended that mouth and nose protection is generally worn in public areas. In particular if the minimum distance of 1.5m to 2m cannot be guaranteed.

    But which mouthguard really protects? In this article you will learn the difference between a conventional mouth cover, mouth-nose protection  and FFP2 or FFP3 mask .


    First of all: wearing any face mask should never lead to neglect of other hygiene and protective measures.  You have the best protection against infections by viruses and bacteria when you wear a mask AND take the following measures to heart:

    • Keep a distance of one and a half to two meters from other people if possible, keyword "social distancing"
    • do not touch the face with unwashed hands
    • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap regularly, but especially after coming home, before eating and after using the toilet (at least 30 seconds are recommended)
    • stay at home if you have a cold or if you have symptoms that indicate an infection with the coronavirus

    Whether in the supermarket or on the bus, you can currently see every form of mouth and nose covering. Basically, a tube scarf, a cloth or a (self-made) fabric mask is sufficient to meet the mask requirement. However, the protective function of such a solution is very questionable. Ultimately, by wearing a face mask, it is important to prevent the spread of droplets that are secreted when coughing, sneezing or speaking as far as possible .

    Viruses or bacteria are microscopic, but the structure of a cotton scarf is far too coarse. If you tried to protect yourself in this way, it would be like putting up a picket fence around your property to keep mosquitos out. There are of course differences between the materials, but one thing should be made very clear: whether and how much protection there is has not been established.

    It should also be clear: No matter which protective mask you use, it only offers optimal protection if it is worn correctly. Here you will find tips on how to use it correctly.


    Also known as MNS , surgical mask or surgical mask , this type of protective mask is designed for third-party protection and single use. This means that it protects the outside world with a bacterial filter performance of at least 95% from the wearer of the mask and should be disposed of after wearing. The mask wearer himself is protected by the fact that droplets cannot hit him or her directly in the mouth and nose area. However, if breathing air is sucked in from the side, an infection for the wearer cannot be excluded. The closer the mouthguard is, the better. A built-in nosepiece is very helpful for this.

    However, if each were to protect the other, the risk of infection with a possibly still unknown infection in the carrier could be greatly reduced. According to Focus, Jochen Werner, Medical Director at the University Hospital Essen, states that it would be best if everyone just wore mouth and nose protection .

    Attention : In the course of the pandemic, numerous providers are currently offering similar three-layer, mostly blue fleece masks. These are often not medical protective equipment (MSA). The bacterial filter performance has not been tested. You can find out how to recognize certified masks here.

    Make sure that the product has a CE mark . It only receives this if it complies with the requirements of the European Medical Device Directive, more precisely DIN EN 14683: 2019-6 . Certificates or test reports should be able to be presented on request, because there are also Chinese manufacturers in particular who illegally apply such a CE mark. Another indication that it is not a medical product is the note: “Not for medical use. / Not for medical use. "

    Hopefully you will find this in the description of the offer, e.g. in the online shop, but at the latest on the product packaging. In this case, you should return the masks immediately and unopened. A restricted right of withdrawal applies to hygiene products. However, as long as the packaging or the seal is intact, the dealer must accept your revocation. As you probably know, your statutory right of withdrawal is 14 days.



    As personal protective equipment (PPE), respirators and filtering half masks offer the best protection for the mask wearer. The air is sucked in through the integrated filter, which traps pollutant particles. However, this makes breathing a little more difficult. Here, too, it must be ensured that the quality is tested in accordance with the standards DIN EN 149: 2001 and A1: 2009 and that there is a CE mark. Again, caution is advised: there are currently confusingly similar masks sold without certification and thus proven protective function. By definition, FFP masks are not intended for medical use, although these are currently also used in the medical field due to exceptions.This article will tell you more about what to look for when buying protective masks.

    There are three different protection levels with different filter performance. The lowest filter performance is shown by the FFP1 mask, which keeps out coarse particles such as dust. FFP2 masks and FFP3 masks  , on the other hand, offer protection against viruses and bacteria, which is why the Robert Koch Institute recommends them especially for contact with infectious patients. Risk groups can also actively protect themselves against infection with their help.

    Most filtering half masks are single-use products. The marking "NR" (non reusable) indicates that a single use is intended. If, on the other hand, the mask is marked with an "R" (reusable), the mask can be reused.

    FFP masks are available with and without an exhalation valve. The air resistance during exhalation is lower with FFP2 masks and FFP3 masks with a valve. However, the valve lets the exhaled air mostly unfiltered into the environment. These masks should therefore be used with caution and under no circumstances if there is a suspicion of infection or symptoms similar to cold or flu.


    General protective and hygiene measures must always be observed. Medical mouth and nose protection is currently a good solution for the general public. By actively protecting the other, the spread of an infectious disease can be effectively contained. FFP2 and FFP3 masks are best for self-protection. For people belonging to a risk group, they are the best option.


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