Type II EN 14683 Surgical masks

The EN 14683 standard defines requirements for the construction, operation and test methods of surgical masks. This standard is emphatically not applicable to masks intended to protect medical personnel. Surgical masks are primarily intended to protect the patient from contamination by micro-organisms (from the mouth or nose of medical staff). According to the new European standard for surgical masks, there are also other requirements for a surgical mask. These include bacterial filter efficiency (BFE), breathing resistance (Delta P) and splash resistance. To what extent the mask meets these criteria determines which type of oral mask it is.

The BFE measures the effectiveness of the surgical mouth mask in stopping aerosol droplets (or very small droplets of water in the air) carrying bacteria. The BFE then indicates how many particles are stopped by the surgical mask, which is directly related to the amount of bacteria released into the surrounding air through the mask. The patient is better protected with a high percentage of BFE. In type 2 masks, the masks have a BFE of 98% or more. This type therefore contains a higher filter capacity than type 1 masks.

The Delta P indicates the breathing resistance under specific conditions. This is measured on the aspects of temperature, humidity and air flow. The lower the Delta P, the more comfortable the mask is for the wearer. Both type 1 and type 2 masks involve a Delta P of 3.0 H2O/cm2.

Finally, the standard defines the splash resistance. This is the resistance of the filter material to the passage of splashes. The higher the resistance, the better the mask is intended against splashes. Some surgical procedures involve exposure to splashes. In such cases, a splash-resistant mask of 120 mm./Hg or more must be worn. The masks then have an 'R' after the number type.

Type 2 masks are mainly characterised by their high filter capacity. This distinguishes them from type 1 masks. Type 2 masks are ideally suited for long-term procedures and situations, where the risk of more bacteria in the air is higher. Type 2 surgical masks retain droplets/particles of moisture from the air containing bacteria very well and thus protect the patient very well from particles coming from the medical staff. High filter capacity is also very important in coronavirus control. Therefore, type 2 masks are a commonly used protection device for this purpose.