What are the differences between FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 masks?

FFP stands for "Filtering FacePiece Particles" which is translated by "filtering face piece". FFP level protective masks are disposable masks that filter out the smallest particles and are used to combat airborne diseases.

Often used by nursing staff in hospitals or medical centers, they are now recommended to everyone to fight against the COVID19 pandemic which appeared in France at the beginning of 2020.

Often subjected to a filtering half-mask, they are subject to strict standards that define their effectiveness. There are thus 3 types of filtration efficiency classes, according to standard EN 149, namely FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3.

Unlike surgical masks, FFP masks protect the wearer against incoming and outgoing particles, i.e. they protect both the person wearing the mask and the people around him.

The FFP1 mask

These are the least filtering masks of the three. FFP1 masks, also called dust masks are mainly used during various jobs (construction, cleaning, sweeping, ...). They all filter pollen as well as dust and bacteria if they are EN149 certified. Their duration of use varies between 4 and 8 hours.

The FFP2 mask

These are the most recommended masks for fighting viruses. FFP2 level masks provide protection in various sectors: medicine but also industry and agriculture. They were created to fight viral particles and infectious diseases. They are equivalent to the N95 masks, better known in America.

During the COVID19 crisis, they were first requisitioned by governments, in order to protect healthcare workers and laboratories.

Today, they are in high demand from individuals since the new British variant of COVID19 pushes certain regions to make them mandatory. This is the case in Bavaria (Germany) where it is compulsory to wear it in public transport and shops since January 18, 2021. This is also the case in Austria where it is compulsory to wear it in public transport, stores and medical centers.

For now, FFP2 masks are not mandatory in France but they could become.

The FFP3 mask

FFP3 masks are the most filtering. They are used in industry, laboratories, medicine and protect against the finest particles (asbestos, silica, various aerosols) and against the elements indicated for masks of level FFP1 and FFP2. Be careful, however, they do not protect against harmful gases (monoxide, nitrogen, etc.). FFP3 masks can also be used to fight COVID19 but are more restrictive (discomfort, ease of breathing) than FFP2 masks. In addition, FFP3 masks generally benefit from a valve. The air released from the mask soup may contain the virus and is therefore a transmission factor. Its wearer must therefore not have the virus for the mask to be effective.

To conclude


Type de masque : FFP1 FFP2 FFP3 Chirurgicaux Tissu
 Filtration d'aérosols >80% >94% >99% >95% >70%
Protection contre le virus à l'inspiration Non Oui  Oui Non Non
Protection contre le virus à l'expiration
Non Oui Non car valve Oui En fonction de la catégorie