We all know that they're proven to help stop the spread of coronavirus. But did you know there are face masks with filters that can provide a little extra protection?
Previous government advice that medical-grade masks should be not worn by the general population to avoid shortages for medical staff has been dropped. So now, people are turning to N95, FFP2, and FFP3 face masks - all of which contain filters - for increased protection against coronavirus.
In fact, The British Medical Association (BMA), Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) and Doctors’ Association UK are calling for frontline personnel to be given FFP3 masks instead of the standard surgical masks to help them avoid getting infected during the Omicron rise.
There are also a number of great washable cloth masks with filters available to buy online.
WATCH: Check out these celebrities wearing face masks
What is a face mask filter?
Face mask filters are used as an extra layer of protection to filter out particulates in the air. They usually sit in between the two outer layers of the mask. Several types of face mask filters exist, from basic cloth pieces to carbon filters and HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters.
How often should I change my face mask filter?
There are several great reusable, washable non-medical face coverings on the market that come with removable filters. You should replace the filter regularly – ideally after each use – and wash your mask daily, waiting until it is completely dry before you put it on again. Alternatively, there are washable masks with inbuilt filters which you do not need to replace.
For filters to work effectively, the mask should fit snugly to your face, with no gaps where air can escape.
What is an FFP3 mask?
An FFP3 mask is one that contains a filter. FFP stands for Filtering Face Piece. FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 masks are the three grades of masks classified under the EN 149 European standard of testing and marking requirements for masks which filter the air. An FFP1 filters at least 80% of airborne particles, and FFP2 filters 94% and with an FFP3, that number rises to 99%.
An FFP2 mask has a similar performance requirement to the N95 masks worn in the US and the FFP3 has similar performance requirements to the American N99 masks – though there are some differences in test requirements.
In Austria, these types of masks are now required on buses and in other public areas, and in Germany, elderly people have been given them to go shopping.
A word of caution, however. If you do invest in a mask with a filter, do remember that wearing one does not replace the need for social distancing and frequent hand washing to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Read on for the best selection of masks with filters that you can buy online today.
Which are the best masks with filters you can buy online in the UK?
Nanofilter mask grey logo plus replaceable nanofilter, £25.18, är
The är face masks are unique in that they are self-cleaning because they feature a Swedish pioneered ViralOff surface treatment that reduces 99% of viruses and bacteria on the surface of the mask. The masks also have replaceable nano filters that have been shown to block 99.8% of viruses tested by global microbiology testers Nelson Labs. The mask comes with a replaceable nanofilter. Children's sizes are availble too.
What is a nanofilter?
Nanotechnology filters block up to 99.8% or viruses, bacteria, dust and other airborne pollutants and contaminants. Each filter comprises of three layers and the nanofibers within the filter are 1,000 times thinner than a human hair.
Self-cleaning FFP2 respirator mask, from £6.65, är
The same brand has also launched what they've dubbed "The first designer FFP2 mask". It features the same antiviral technology which means that it's self-cleaning, and can be worn for up to two weeks or 40 hours of cumulative wear. Those are great figures when you consider that disposable FFP2 masks should be thrown away ideally after each use. The early batches sold out but it's available to buy now. Hurry if you want to grab one!
Twin filtration face masks, £13.99, Feelunique
As well as multiple layers of fabric, Termin8 face masks also have a section for filters and adjustable ear loops – so they're comfortable and safe. This pack of two neutral beige masks comes with four PM2.5 filters.
Black washable cotton 3 layer FFP2 face mask, was £15 now £12.95, Cradle Masks
This incredibly breathable, all-black three-layer mask offers some of the the best protection you will find available in a reusable mask. It's is abrasion-resistant cotton on the outside and soft hydrophilic cotton on the inside to prevent skin irritation. A central 'melt blown' filter traps at least 98% of 0.3 micron particles including virus-laden airborne saliva, bacteria, dust and pollen. It's machine washable at 40C for up to 30 cycles, and features ergonomic contouring around the nose and chin plus an adjustable nose bridge for maximum seal.
AB mask washable mask with filter, was £8.34, now £5.99, Amazon
This washable mask provides 7 layers of protection when used with the included replaceable filter. It's made with special breathable fabric featuring antibacterial protection which kills 99.99% of bacteria on contact. The filter itself is a 5-layer bespoke particle filter which filters up to 95% of non-oily, airborne particles. AB recommends you change the filter after 40hrs of continual use. Replacement filters can be purchased separately.
Disposable FFP2 mask, from £0.98, Chemist Click
If you're looking to buy non-valve, disposable FFP2 masks individually online, Chemist Click is a good option. FFP2 or N95 masks filter at least 95% of airborne particles, providing a high level of protection against viruses and bacteria.
Reusable cloth mask with filter, £11, Casetify
Casetify's washable face mask is available in four colours. They have a nice snug fit and are made of five layers (WHO advice states masks should have at least three) including space for a filter. They come with two PM 2.5 carbon filters.
What is a PM 2.5 carbon filter?
PM stands for particulate matter - i.e. air pollution and – and PM2.5 is the size of common carbon particulates. So a PM2.5 filter will stop these minuscule particles from getting through. Every purchase of a Casetify mask also includes the cost of donating a medical-grade mask to frontline health workers
Vistaprint advanced protection integrated filter mask, from £17, Vistaprint
Vistaprint masks feature nose wire and adjustable straps, which ensure a snug fit to the face. They have an inner layer of cotton and an inbuilt permanent filter. There are children’s sizes available too, and for every mask sold, Vistaprint gives 6% of proceeds to the Prince's Trust Young People Relief fund to support young people impacted by the pandemic.
Linen cotton mask with filter pocket, was £20, Wolf & Badger
Wolf & Badger’s offering is a four-layer face mask with a pocket to add your own filter (not included) The nose wire and adjustable straps mean you can get a great fit. This is a seriously comfy mask thanks to the inner layer of 100% delicate cotton.
Pink mask, £8, Aftermask
All Aftermask masks come with one disposable filter and there's a handy pocket for you to place another filter in after use. The masks themselves are cotton and the filters are non-woven with 80% filtration efficiency. Plus, there is a huge range of pretty prints to choose from!
Uniqlo Airism mask three-pack, £9.90, Uniqlo
Uniqlo's washable Airism mask comes with a built-in filter with a bacterial filtration efficiency of 99%, blocking droplets and protecting against pollen, too. It comes in sizes small to large and is available in black, grey or white.
Replacement face mask filters
Replacement PM2.5 Filters, £6.29, Amazon
Experts – including John Hopkins Medicine – recommend you clean your face mask and use a new filter after each wearing. You can buy replacement PM2.5 carbon filters in packs of 10 from Amazon.
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