Am I getting a good enough mask?

Updated: Dec 11, 2020

Are you wondering if you are getting a good mask?

With the ceiling price set on surgical masks, does Malaysia still have access to good surgical masks?


With Malaysia starting to open up, it is now more important than ever to equip yourselves with a source of reliable surgical mask.


Information on Surgical Masks

Here we address a few FAQs about surgical face masks so that you can make informed decisions.

1. What are the specifications of different surgical mask grades and what kind of Laboratory testing standards do they follow?

Not all masks are made the same. You might have seen news reports of Japan citizens receiving masks infested with insects and masks with high bacterial content that was recalled.

To understand what is important in a surgical mask, look out for their standards and tests conducted. Here, we discuss the basics of European and China standards. For more information, visit https://www.nelsonlabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/ProtectiveBarrier_Slick.pdf

TYPES of Surgical MaskStandards, Lab tests, Filtration Efficiency

Non- Medical Face Masks

  • Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE): 30-90%

  • No laboratory testing and ungoverned by any standards

Medical Face Mask, EN14683 Type I

  • Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE): >/=95%

  • Laboratory test standards: EN14683 Type I OR YY/T0969

Medical Face Mask, EN14683 Type II

  • Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE): >/= 98%

  • Laboratory test standards: EN14683 Type II or YY/T0969

Medical Face Mask, EN14683 Type IIR

  • Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE): >/= 98%

  • Laboratory test Standards: EN14683 Type IIR or YY 0469

  • Additional blood splash resistance testing


2. What is Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE)? Bacterial Filtration Efficiency is the percentage of particles with a mean size of 3+/-0.3 microns is being filtered.

3. What is the size of Coronavirus and can it be stopped by high BFE masks? Coronavirus size (0.06-0.14 microns) is much smaller than the size tested by standard BFE testing (3microns). N95 respirators, which undergoes smaller Particle Filtration testing (0.1 -0.3microns) will theoretically be a better choice of mask to protect against Corona Virus, provided worn tightly to create a good facial seal. However, if not worn with a tight seal, N95 may also result in similar effectiveness to Surgical mask. Practically speaking, we have seen studies coming out of US and Canada that shows flu virus (similar size to Coronovirus) infection rates in subjects are similar, whether subjects are wearing N95 or Surgical masks. (Source) In other studies, there are also reports of Surgical masks being able to block 80% of particles (down to 0.007 microns in size), while the 3M 8812 respirator is able to block up to 96% of particles. So, while N95 may be theoretically a better choice, the truth is that surgical masks do come close to provide protection, especially when N95 are not readily available these days. (Source)

What should I choose?

In the event that you don't have access Medical grade Surgical Masks due to the ceiling price restrictions, go for at least a mask that has BFE>95%. It will be best to check if sellers have any lab tests to back up their claim.


Click here to a surgical mask in Malaysia which has certified BFE>95%.


Stay Safe everyone!

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