Coronavirus 2019-nCoV: can a mask protect?

In these days everyone is talking about Coronavirus 2019-nCoV. We know it belongs to a family of viruses known to cause diseases ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases, such as MERS and SARS. And we know that the new coronavirus deserved the 2019-nCoV acronym because it had never been encountered before. We know how it is transmitted, we know its symptoms. So why do we intervene in the debate too?

 Because we have our say.

We intervene because as historical producers of masks for respiratory protection, both for professional and personal use, we have accumulated experience on the subject: experimenting, producing and testing. In these days, in the comments, we read or hear right things, but also often approximate, and sometimes wrong about the usefulness of the masks: that's why we decided to have our say.

We think we have knowledge to share on this issue. We believe it is a duty to do it, for all companies. And even more for a company like ours - a technological boutique, as we like to define ourselves - closely linked to a historically productive Milanese territory such as Bovisa, which today works closely with the Polytechnic University of Milan, which does research and produces in Italy. An SME, as they say, that affirms Italian entrepreneurship in the world.

Dusts, mists, fumes: let's clarify.

The ones who like us produce masks, love to see it clearly on the risk causes. For this reason, we distinguish three categories of agents - dust, mists and fumes - that make up the set of harmful particles for breathing present in the air that we all breathe.
Dust is formed when a solid material is broken down into tiny fragments. Mists are microscopic drops that are formed by nebulization and condensation processes. The fumes are formed when a material, which at room temperature and pressure presents itself in a solid state (e.g. a metal), is vaporized by the high heat. The vapor cools quickly condensing into extremely fine particles. The term particulate identifies the set of these particles present in the air (dust, fumes, mists).

To adequately protect against the risk, the legislation provides for two families of products for protection from particulates: the filtering facepiece - category III device, more commonly called "disposable mask", for the protection of the nose and mouth - where protection from particulates is indicated with "FFP", reference standard EN 149:2001+A1:2009, and the filters to be used with half mask or full mask - category III devices for the protection of nose, mouth, chin and possibly eyes - where protection from particulates is indicated with "P", reference standard EN 143:2000+A1:2006. The legislation attributes increasing protection to increasing filtering efficiency: FFP1, FFP2, FFP3 / P1, P2, P3.

The protection factor: how to choose the right mask.

The legislation also indicates how to properly select a respirator based on risk assessment. It does this with the European standard EN 529:2005 which defines the "protection factor". An important distinction concerns the nominal protection factor (FPN) and the assigned protection factor (FPA).

The nominal protection factor (FPN) is a number derived from the maximum percentage of total loss (towards the inside of the respirator) allowed by European standards. The assigned protection factor (FPA) is the level of respiratory protection which, in a realistic way, can be expected to be obtained in the workplace by 95% of PPE users.

Furthermore, an important reference for the choice of respirator is the Threshold Limit Value (TLV), which indicates the environmental concentrations of the airborne chemicals below which it is believed that most workers can remain exposed repeatedly day after day, for a working life, without any negative effect on health.

How to protect the respiratory tract from Coronaviruses: some advice.

After the necessary premises made up to here, let's get to the point: can a mask protect us from Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)? Our experience in the production of respiratory protection devices makes us give an affirmative answer. Probably also in the case of 2019-nCoV, and with high probability in the less aggressive Coronaviruses, more common in our country.

Starting from our experience, we recommend three virtuous behaviours to protect against these viruses.

For preventive protection, it is advisable to wear disposable masks with at least the FFP2 protection level. The FFP2 filtering facepiece is suitable for protection from solid and/or non-volatile liquid particles. As an example, in our production are the masks BLS 128B/128BW, BLS 728, BLS 828.

To reduce the spread of the virus, infected people should wear disposable masks with protection level FFP2 or FFP3 without an exhalation valve. When dealing with infected people, we recommend disposable masks with protection level FFP2 or FFP3, preferably without an exhalation valve. Still as an example, in our production are the masks BLS 128B/128BW, BLS 728, BLS 828, BLS Zer030NV.

A final tip, certainly not in importance, is that a protective device is useless if it does not fit the face and is not worn correctly. Therefore when wearing a respiratory protection device, you must always make sure that it fits on the face to guarantee an optimal seal: read the donning instructions.

To close, a reassurance. BLS products are certified as PPE according to EN 149:2001+A1:2009 in class FFP2 and FFP3 and fully correspond to the indications of the World Health Organization (WHO) - Infection prevention and control guidance.
BLS respirators are CE marked according to the European Regulation (EU) 2016/425 (Personal protective equipment).

 

This website uses cookies to offer users a more responsive and personalised service.
By accessing this site, you accept the use of these cookies. For for more information, please visit the page dedicated to our cookie policy, COOKIE AND PRIVACY POLICY, where you will find information on how to delete or block cookies.
By clicking on the ACCEPT AND CLOSE button you accept the use of cookies.