Two years into the virus, the UK has had little guidance on face masks, but in some countries, they are not only compulsory without exception, but they also have to be the right type or there is an on the spot fine. As cruise ships now get turned away from ports and return home, and people turn positive just before their cruise, we all worry about our holiday.
What we do know is that the virus can be caught from another person’s emitted airborne spores. So, sitting in a hairdresser salon close to someone, or in a taxi, or having a runner shoot past breathing deeply could all be a problem. The coronavirus is around 0.1 microns in size, however, it is usually attached to something else from the process of breathing, like a droplet, and can be around 0.3 microns in practice. As with Russian Roulette, it just takes a one-micron bullet in the wrong chamber and you miss a holiday worth thousands. If you were going into a gunfight you might wear a bulletproof vest.
There are some good mask efficiency test videos and those with the equipment and ability to test have made charts. However, in a nutshell, there are cheap masks, homemade masks, fashion masks and then there are ones with a standard of efficiency stamped on them. So, if you have to take public transport to the ship, which might mean hours with at least one other person, who may have in the last day been in touch with a dozen people who were in touch with a dozen people, you might want to consider the best mask possible. Standard surgical masks are not greatly protective compared to those of a better grade. They are a lot cheaper. In Germany and France, they state the use of FFP2 masks.
There comes a time when it is not so much what the law says but how do I protect myself from whoever, and it is another person who has an unknown track that you cannot trace. Like a driver or a haircutter who sees a different person every 20 minutes… so,
Three protection levels FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 standardised across the European Union according to EN 149:2001+A1:2009.
Which keeps you safe? Or ask, why is there a phrase saying ‘wear a mask to keep others safe?’ Because when you read the ratings you can see some masks do not keep the wearer safe is a mask made with strong enough material to prevent airborne particles from entering in through your mouth and nose. Obviously, you are also at risk with your eyes being a receptor so the plastic face shield is quite sensibly worn by some as well as a mask.
FFP1 MASKS – note what these are said NOT to protect against.
FFP1 masks may be used with contaminant concentrations up to 4 times the workplace exposure limit (WEL).
They protect against non-toxic water and oil-based particles. They do not protect against carcinogenic and radioactive substances or airborne biological agents of risk groups 2 and 3 + enzymes.
The total leakage of an FFP1 mask is a maximum of 22%. At least 80% of contaminants are filtered out of the inhaled air.
FFP2 (similar to KN95) masks may be used with contaminant concentrations up to 10 times the workplace exposure limit (WEL).
They protect against harmful water and oil based particles. They don’t protect against carcinogenic substances, radioactive particles, airborne biological agents of risk group 3 and enzymes.
The total leakage of an FFP2 mask is a maximum of 8%. At least 94% of contaminants are filtered out of the inhaled air.
FFP3 MASKS – this is the one I would wear for a long coach journey
FFP3 masks may be used with contaminant concentrations up to 20 times the workplace exposure limit (WEL).
They protect against harmful and carcinogenic water and oil based particles, as well as radioactive particles, airborne biological agents of the risk group 2+3 and enzymes.
The total leakage of an FFP3 mask is a maximum of 2%. At least 99% of contaminants are filtered out of the inhaled air.
Typical applications for an FFP3 mask are for example handling, radioactive substances, pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and fungal spores.
When it comes to trying to stay uninfected ready for an expensive cruise, or to save life, the price can not be a consideration. Here are three clear options and you can see why most wear cheap masks. Please look for others, and please read the reviews with the comfort experience often discussed.
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China standard KN95
US Standard N95. Masks are normally a 4-Layer Medical Respirator Mask – in the USA and NIOSH Approved (TC-84A-7447) and considered the best for travel.
Both KN95 and N95 masks must filter out and capture 95 percent of tiny 0.3-micron particles in the air (hence the “95” in the names). If I have brought some clarity to the subject, please research this matter further to have a fuller picture.
CHAT GROUPS – a fantastic way to help others and a place to find answers. We run Facebook Groups for cruisers – see the list in black boxes after the ships and fleets listed above. Here are our cruise chat groups