Which Respirator Face Masks protect against the Coronavirus? FFP classes comparison

The recent 2019–20 China pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan was traced to a novel coronavirus, which is labeled as 2019-nCoV by WHO.

What do FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 protect against? What’s the difference?

Particle filtering respirator masks protect in three different FFP classes protect against watery and oily aerosols, as well as fine dust and smoke. These particle-filtering half masks are standardized according to EN 149 and are divided into FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3. The FFP masks do not protect against gases and vapors. A full mask and filter is required for this.

Respirator face mask FFP classes – Which FFP class protects against which substances?

Protection class FFP1 FFP2 FFP3
Non-toxic dusts, smoke particles x x x
Carcinogenic substances x x
Viruses, bacteria, fungal spores x
Radioactive substances x

FFP stands for “Filtering Face Piece”. Respirators are mandatory at workplaces when the workplace limit is exceeded. The FFP class is dependent on the total leakage and the filtration of particle sizes down to 0.6 μm. The total leakage depends on the fit of the protective mask on the face and nose and on the filter outlet.


FFP1 respirators may only be used in work environments where there are no toxic or fibrogenic aerosols or dusts. The 4-fold workplace limit value (AGW) of FFP1 respiratory masks must not be exceeded. With a degree of separation of 78%, a maximum of 25% of the particles in an FFP1 respirator mask can pass through the mask (total leakage). FFP1 masks are mainly used in the construction industry or in the food industry.


FFP2 respirators should be used in work environments where there are substances that are hazardous to health and mutagenic in the air we breathe. FFP2 respirators have a separation rate of 92%. The workplace limit value (AGW) may be 10 times as high as the industry standard value. FFP2 protective masks protect against less toxic dusts, fog and smoking.


FFP3 respirators are suitable for toxic, carcinogenic and radioactive particles. With a degree of separation of 98%, the mask retains at least 98% of the particles when the mask is properly seated. FFP3 masks are used in laboratories when dealing with viruses and bacteria or also in wood processing.

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