FFP3 disposable respirators put to the test


New UK HSE report says sample testing of FFP3 respiratory masks found some models failed the test requirements

The UK Health & Safety Executive has released a report on Market surveillance of FFP3 disposable respirators (Report RR1087).

Filtering Facepieces (FFPs) are disposable Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) for protection against dusts, particles and aerosols.

They are often referred to as 'disposable dust masks', are widely used, and generally require no cleaning or maintenance.

They are available in three classes: FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3, with the higher numbers corresponding to better filtering efficiency.

As with all types of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) sold in the UK, they must comply with the EU PPE Directive 89/686/EEC.

It is the responsibility of the manufacturer or person placing the RPE on the European single market to ensure compliance.

For FFPs this is invariably achieved by compliance with the harmonised standard EN149:2001+A1:2009.

The report describes market surveillance testing of samples of 10 FFP3 respirator models from 10 different manufacturers that are available on the UK market.

The aim was to determine whether each sample meets a range of health and safety performance requirements required by the standard.

Only five of the 10 models passed all tests with no faults or failures.

Two models had an isolated fault on a single sample, one of which was very serious, rendering the respirator ineffective.

Three models had multiple faults, two of them serious.

The information provided with the masks by the manufacturers was generally acceptable, although four out of the 10 manufacturers included no or limited information on pre-use checks.

The report discusses the method of testing, the results and then looks at: Faults and failures affecting the performance of the masks; Packaging, markings and information supplied by the manufacturer; and Anomalies in markings and information.

The report makes interesting reading for those responsible in manufacturing, specifying, sourcing or using such respirators.

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RR1087 – Market surveillance of FFP3 disposable respirators is available at http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrhtm/rr1087.htm?eban=govdel-research-reports&cr=10-Dec-2016