Disposable mask – is a whole range of various medical products that are designed to protect against the release of any viruses and bacteria outside (from the respiratory tract) and to protect against the penetration of airborne microorganisms .
Some medical staff are obligatorily required to wear masks, others are recommended. Due to the diverse size and toxicity of individual pathogens, medical masks are different in density and type of material from which they are made, and must also meet specific antibacterial and antiviral criteria.
All masks used by medical staff must have appropriate approvals and certificates and are subject to very high quality controls, because human life and health depend on them.
Medical workers who must use face masks while performing their work include:
- infectious practitioners
- medical operators
- nurse nurses, etc.
- emergency services
- laboratory tests
- medical waste utilization employees
Who should wear the mask, under what conditions and what type are determined by separate regulations of the Minister of Health and the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate.
In exceptional situations, e.g. due to an epidemic threat, the list of persons obliged to wear masks may be extended. Also medical activities that must be performed with the use of face masks are detailed in official ordinances and recommendations.
Medical masks are divided into:
- surgical masks
- protective masks
They must meet European standards EN 14 683, which are divided into two types according to the effectiveness of bacterial filtration and resistance to leakage (infectious fluids, blood).
Types of surgical masks:
- type I – they filter 95% of pathogens in the air
- type II – they filter 98% of pathogens in the air
- IR type – they filter 95% of pathogens, additionally resistant to seepage, more than 120 mm / Hg
- type IIR – they filter 98% of pathogens, additionally resistant to seepage, more than 120 mm / Hg
Due to the thickness, IR and IIR masks are additionally equipped with an anti-fog layer.
Surgical masks are disposable masks . After about 20 minutes, change them. Any used surgical mask must be disposed of properly.
Despite very strict safety standards, surgical masks of the same type may differ from model to model. The basic differences relate to the method of attachment on the face – on elastic bands, attached behind the ears or on straps, tied at the back of the head.
In addition, the surgical mask can be adapted to the shape of the wearer.
In appearance, surgical masks type I and II resemble a rectangular paper folded into a harmonica, expanding on the face. At the height of the nose they have a special material sewn in, which allows them to fit tightly to this part of the face.
Surgical mask type IR or IIR has a different shape, anatomically adjacent to the face.
Surgical disposable masks are made of a material commonly known as medical fleece. They are relatively cheap. Their production, due to the hospital environment in which they are used, is also covered by high standards of biological purity. Some surgical masks are made of several layers of material.
This type of face mask protects against the pathogens contained in the air getting into the respiratory tract and from getting outside in the exhaled air. They protect against the ingress of bacteria, allergens, viruses and dust. Face masks therefore have a dual role.
Similarly to surgical masks, they are divided into individual types, detailed in international standards (the standardized standard that must be protected mask is NE 149).
Types of face masks are marked according to safety classes ( f iltering f ace p iese). They tightly cover the nose and mouth. They are able to protect against the penetration of dust and microorganisms with a diameter close to the dimensions of the SARS-CoV-19 coronavirus.
- FFP I – filter 80% of airborne particles
- FFP II – they filter 95% of airborne particles
- FFP III – they filter 99% of airborne particles
Protective mask type III is a mask with the highest level of security. It is used in an extremely toxic environment because it even filters toxic, radioactive and carcinogenic substances. In addition, odors (aerosol particles floating in the air) do not penetrate this mask.
The protective mask is made of a special, certified material, with a special shape, adapted to the anatomy of the face and especially the nose and mouth. It must adhere perfectly to the skin, without the risk of the slightest leakage.
Due to the high level of filtration, this type of mask has obtained security certifications against most viruses, so with medicine they are treated as anti-virus masks.
Replaceable filters in protective masks.
FFP masks can be disposable (similar to surgical masks ), but they must be disposed of after 8 hours of uninterrupted use.
Masks with a replaceable filter
The most technologically advanced are anti-virus masks reusable FFP3 class, but they require systematic filter replacement and each time sterilization. They must be equipped with an N99 filter.
Use of face masks.
- medicine, pharmacy and life sciences
Antivirus masks are mandatory among medical staff working in infectious wards or with patients infected with pathogenic pathogens.
Due to their functionalities, protective masks are used in many other fields of science, medicine and industry. As anti-virus masks , they are used in inpatient medicine in situations of epidemic threat or suspected infection with other dangerous microorganisms. They are also used in research laboratories dealing with the most dangerous microorganisms in the world.
All employees of the production lines of drug preparations of the highest biological purity class must be equipped with special overalls and anti-virus masks . The same applies to rescue personnel in pandemic areas.
- construction, food and chemical industries.
Protective masks are used in the construction industry, especially in difficult operating conditions due to exceeded airborne dust standards. Exceeded toxicity standards also occur in the chemical and food industries. Employees are required to use FFP masks everywhere.
Due to the advanced technology, especially replaceable filters, anti-virus masks achieve very high prices. The most important and the most expensive element that determines the functionality of reusable protective masks is the N99 certified filter. Stops dust, aerosols, viruses and bacteria while allowing breathing. Another criterion is adhesion to the skin, i.e. the finish of the mask so that there is not even a micrometer of the free space between the mask and the skin through which the microorganism could get into the human respiratory tract.