High level bioprotection against infective aerosols: How medical face
masks compare against respirators
Face masks and respirators are commonly used to prevent the transmission
of infectious diseases that spread by respiratory droplets and aerosols.
However, there is still uncertainty about the protective effect of the
different types of masks against virus containing aerosols. To determine
the as-worn bioprotection efficacy of different face coverings and
estimate the possible protective function against airborne diseases, we
challenged different respirators and medical masks on a standardized
dummy head with a bioaerosol containing MS2 bacteriophages as virus
surrogates. In our experiments, FFP2 respirators showed the highest
filtration efficacy 94.45±4.47 (SD) % followed by medical masks
92.83±3.34 (SD) % and KN95 respirators 90.08±6.64% (SD) %.
Nevertheless, we found no statistically significant difference between
respirators and medical masks in terms of provided protection against
infective aerosols. Our findings indicate, that both respirators and
medical masks provide a high as-worn bioprotection efficacy against
virus containing aerosols, and therefore, a very high protection against
airborne diseases. Considering the higher comfort, better availability,
and lower price of medical masks in contrast to respirators, it is
recommendable to use medical face masks especially in low risk
situations and in general public.