2023-12-11 06:35:35 | 994
Surgical Face Masks V/S Respirators

The ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has already infected millions of individuals worldwide, and global vaccination campaigns are underway to limit transmission as quickly as feasible. While there is common consensus that travel restrictions and social isolation have been effective in limiting transmission, suggestions for the use of face masks are universal.

To protect ourselves from viral agents, we must wear something that resists the infections we bring with us. For this reason, many individuals prefer medical Face Masks and respirators to keep themselves safe and healthy. Masks should be worn as part of a complete ‘Do it all!' strategy that includes social distancing, avoiding busy, confined, and close-contact environments, sufficient ventilation, hand washing, masking sneezes and coughs, etc.

Masks, depending on the kind, can be used to protect healthy people or to prevent further transmission. In general, masks are used in hospitals for two reasons: to protect both health workers and patients, and thereby preventing viral diseases from spreading. The use of face masks is no longer limited to hospitals or patients, as the growing epidemic has forced everyone to wear a mask on a regular basis.

The surgical masks and Respirators are the two most common types of Medical Face masks used by the people.

The surgical Masks are classified as Type I and Type II according to their Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE). The Type II masks are further divided into Type II and Type IIR Masks according to their Splash Resistance against potentially contaminated fluid splashes. A Type IIR mask is splash resistant while a Type II mask is not.

The surgical masks are composed of fabric layers that keep particles from spreading when a person sneezes or coughs, confining viruses to the mask and protecting others from infection.

Respirators are classed as FFP1, FFP2, and FFP3 based on their ability to filter bacteria and other pathogens by 90%, 95%, and 99%, respectively.

Understanding the difference between Surgical masks and the Respirators is critical in choosing which is best for the user. The major differences are as follows:


Surgical Face MaskSurgical Mask Illustration

Type I, Type II, or Type IIR surgical masks are loose-fitting disposable masks that establish a physical barrier between the wearer's nose and mouth and pollutants.


FFP1, FFP2, and FFP3 respirators are respiratory protective devices designed to provide a very close face fit and highly efficient filtration of airborne particles


Surgical Mask Vs Respirator USE :-

Surgical Face Mask

Hinders the wearer's respiratory droplets from infecting other people & surfaces. Type IIR masks can also protect the wearer from large droplets or sprays of hazardous fluids.



Wearers are protected by minimizing their exposure to harmful airborne particles in the environment, such as tiny particle aerosols and droplets


Surgical Mask Vs Respirator Fitting Comparison 

Surgical Mask

Fits loosely across the face. The mask's edges are not intended to completely seal around the nose and mouth.

Loose Fitting



Fits snugly around the face, forming a seal between the face and the respirator.

Tight Fitting 



Face Fit Testing Surgical Mask Vs Respirators

Surgical Mask

No, however proper donning and doffing procedures must be followed.



Yes. Furthermore, each time the respirator is put on, a user seal check is required. Donning and doffing protocols should also be followed.


Surgical Mask vs Respirator Use in Healthcare:

Surgical Mask Use in Health Care

  • In clustered areas (but no interaction with patients)
  • Direct patient interaction (less than one metre)
  • Session usage in a particular healthcare facility or exposure environment.
  • Improving Infection Control
  • Minimizing the threat of cross-contamination.
  • Clinical applications with low risk that do not include blood-borne pathogens or body fluids


Respirator Use in Healthcare

  • When performing aerosol-generating procedures on a patient who has COVID-19, both suspected or confirmed.
  • In high-risk regions where AGPs are being carried out
  • In clustered areas (but no interaction with patients)
  • Direct patient interaction (less than one metre)
  • Session usage in a particular healthcare facility or exposure environment.
  • Ambulance attendants
  • Care home staff



Surgical Mask Vs Respirator Use in Industry :

Surgical Mask use in Industry

Although not currently recommended, the following options could be considered:

Certain workplaces and occupations that require physical closeness many people.


Respirator Use in Industry 

The use of an FFP3 or FFP2 respirator Mask is recommended in any workplace where a hazardous substance has been recognised.

  • Prison officers
  • Police or security forces (those who are in close proximity to the Covid 19 occurrences)


Use in Community Settings 

Surgical Mask 

Although not presently advised, the following options might well be considered:

  • While taking public transportation
  • While visiting crowded, enclosed areas such as grocery stores, shopping malls, etc.



It is not recommended that the general public use them to protect against infections such as COVID-19, since they are critical supplies that must be reserved for health care personnel and other medical first responders.


Surgical Mask Vs Respirator - Suitable for :

Surgical Mask Suitable For :

Regular activities that pose no risk of exposure to blood or bodily fluids and are unlikely to expose you to viruses


Respirator Suitable for : 

Those who have a true need for splash resistance in settings where fluid contamination and viruses are a possibility.