FFP2: Will the next mask course change soon?

PublishedJanuary 27, 2021, 12:01 pm

FFP2 masks are already mandatory in neighboring countries. There are also signs of a rethink in Switzerland. There are also doubts about the harmlessness of the masks.

Leo Hurni
Pascal Michel
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The Swiss stock up on FFP masks. In January the demand for these rose sharply.

20min/Marco Zangger

In Germany and Austria, the masks are sometimes already mandatory. Because the masks promise better protection.

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IFilter m in contrast to the hygiene masks FFP2 Masks also solid particles and thus offer more effective protection against aerosols.

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  • More and more FFP2 masks are being bought in Switzerland.

  • These masks offer more effective protection against aerosols.

  • In Germany and Austria, the masks are sometimes already mandatory.

  • Ea recommendation or duty dThe cantons are now also being discussed.

  • The FFP2 masks are not without controversy: if used incorrectly, they are not safe. There are also health concerns.

It was the mantra of Mr. Corona Daniel Koch during the first Corona wave: “The population cannot protect themselves effectively with masks.” In the summer, the union swung around. The reason for Koch’s statement: The federal government had stored too few masks.

Now, in the middle of the second wave, the authorities are again changing course on the mask issue. This time it concerns the so-called FFP2 masks. In Germany and Austria, they are already partly mandatory in public. Because in contrast to the hygiene masks, FFP2 masks also filter solid particles and thus offer more effective protection against aerosols.

Offices are the focus

The use of FFP2 masks is also being discussed in the cantons, as canton doctors chief Rudolf Hauri told the media on Tuesday. FFP2 masks could be made compulsory under certain circumstances. “These are in particular circumstances with greater importance for aerosol formation, for example in narrow spaces with little ventilation”, says Hauri. He specified that he meant offices, for example, and that the problem in public transport was less acute because of the larger air volumes.

The Federal Office of Public Health, together with the Corona Task Force, is also monitoring how neighboring countries are handling FFP masks. An adaptation of the mask recommendations is currently not planned, according to BAG press spokesman Yann Hulmann. “Depending on the development of the epidemiological situation, but also on the state of scientific knowledge, the situation can be reassessed.”

Bäumle demands transparency

GLP National Councilor Martin Bäumle thinks that the BAG should have learned from the communicative mask debacle in the first wave. “The population should now be informed transparently and quickly about how the federal government and cantons want to deal with FFP2 masks,” he says. Otherwise, the current situation would create uncertainty and could lead to unnecessary hamster purchases. “A recommendation for minimum requirements for masks and correct wearing would be indicated in order to offer as much safety as possible.”

Bäumle is in favor of a recommendation in places with limited space, provided that the federal government and cantons have enough FFP2 masks in stock. However, he does not find a general obligation expedient: “That could trigger new resistance.” Rather, the BAG should quickly make it clear how many FFP2 masks are available and who should use them. Bäumle thinks of health workers or pupils and teachers in upper grades and high schools.

Suva recommends taking breaks from masking

The German Society for Hospital Hygiene draws attention to possible health side effects of the FFP2 masks. There is a lack of research. The association sees the problem not only in the risk of infection due to improper wearing of the masks. Side effects such as breathing difficulties or facial dermatitis because of the tight-fitting mask were found among health workers. “When used on people with impaired lung function or the elderly, health effects cannot be ruled out.”

Suva also has certain concerns. She recommends that you never work more than three hours with an FFP mask. Then you should take a mask break of at least 30 minutes. The reason for this: When wearing respirators, the breathing resistance increases. According to Suva, this leads to additional physical stress. If you wear a mask like this in the office all day, for example, it is not what Suva recommends.

FFP masks (Filtering Face Piece) are disposable masks that are made almost entirely of filter material. They cover the nose and mouth and protect against solid particles (dust, viruses, bacteria) and aqueous and oily aerosols. They are also known as particle filtering half masks or fine dust masks and are divided into the protection classes FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3. FFP3 offers the strongest protection. Some FFP masks are also equipped with an exhalation valve. This ensures less breathing resistance when exhaling, but also makes the mask less safe, as exhaled aerosols are not intercepted by the filter material.

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