How to Know Your Respirators Are European Standards

Real products mean real protection, find out with ShieldWear how to easily spot a counterfeit mask


Sometimes the cover doesn’t always match the contents. Unfortunately, the box of your masks can be labelled as FFP2s, but not actually contain FFP2s inside.

Since March 2020, a current issue of the day has been respirators (FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3s). With an ongoing pandemic and an enormous global demand, many companies have sprung up offering masks and respirators. Unfortunately, laying your hands on PPE that does not meet the European standards is as easy as picking up some cleaning spray from your local supermarkets. However, unlike the spray, counterfeits have likely not been tested, nor are they certified and cannot be guaranteed to perform, posing serious health risks to you and your employees.

You can easily find, by checking the certification and the markings of the respirator, whether the product is evaluated under the relevant advice and comply with the terms of safety, health and environmental protection requirements. This is applicable to all products manufactured in European Union countries as well as externally manufactured products that will be shipped to European Union countries.

The list below is by no means exhaustive, but the following four checks below are the basic foundation in discovering whether your respirator is in fact sub-standard.

1.CE Mark must be visible, legible and indelible

The CE marking indicates that a product has been assessed by the manufacturer and deemed to meet EU safety, health and environmental protection requirements. It should be shown on both the respirator and the packaging and is required for products manufactured anywhere in the world that are then marketed in the EU. Do not get confused with the cleverly thought-out CE as ‘China Export’

Some manufactures use Chinese Export mark instead of original CE mark to deceive consumers.

2.Other mask markings

As part pf the CE Certification process, a PPE product must be tested and approved by a notified body and the notified bodies number must be displayed next to the CE mark (e.g. CE 0194) on the respirator.

If you have the product on hand, look out for:

• The relevant notified body number
• EN149:2001+A1+2009 (the European Standard)
• R or NR (to denote reusable R or NR non-reusable)
• The make and model of the respirator

An accredited supplier will effortlessly show that their products comply and have been certified

European Standard EN149 requires an FFP to have the following markings: Manufacturer’s name and model number, European Standard number, Filtering face piece class as re-usable or single use. European Certification mark and the Notified Body Number.

3.Certificates and Reports

If any manufacturer or distributor claims equivalency against specific standards, that can only be confirmed with appropriate documentation in place. For FFP/European standard respirators, ask to see:

• The Module B- often referred to as the EU Type Examination Certificate
• The Module C2 or Module D (only 1 of these is required) – often referred to as the Certificate of Conformance
• The EU Declaration of Conformity

Simply stating it’s equivalent to an FFP2 is not in compliance.

Module B and EU Declaration of Conformity requirements include references to the Notified Body

4.Instructions on and in the box

PPE must be supplied with User Instructions and a Declaration of Conformity, without these, the product is illegal to use as protective equipment in the workplace.

User Instructions on the packaging and inside the box are a legal requirement for all masks

The KN95 is the Chinese standard broadly equivalent to a Filtering Face Piece FFP2, however it is not recognised in the EU as equivalent even based on the latest guidance. Unless there is certified documentation and evidence that a KN95 has been re-certified to EU regulations, then it is not permissible.

Before purchasing facemasks, take reasonable precautions to ensure it is genuine. Most counterfeit sales of masks will not have the level of technical knowledge acquired by credited companies. Ensure to conduct due diligence whilst buying PPE. Protect your people, your reputation and your company.


About ShieldWear Ltd

ShieldWear Ltd is a distributor of personal protective equipment, focusing primarily on respiratory equipment. The company is committed and dedicated to achieving excellence for customers across the world via rigorous quality assurance processes. Through intense due diligence, ShieldWear have built a network of trusted suppliers around the globe. The direct access to PPE supply manufacturers and storage in UK and European warehouses cuts through global supply chain delays. ShieldWear Ltd is headquartered in London, UK.


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