How to choose the best protection? A quick guide to PPE and DM

Come scegliere la protezione migliore? Una rapida guida a DPI e DM

The ongoing pandemic, Sars - Covid19 - Coronavirus, has forcefully highlighted the need and usefulness of using masks. An object that until a few months ago was completely out of our cultural and imaginary world has suddenly entered our daily lives.

To deal with the emergency, the most disparate information immediately spread, fueling a long debate, resulting in contrasting positions. We have all been inundated with news and information about levels of protection, whether valves are appropriate or not, and increasingly surprising new products. For the sake of information, below we would like to try to clarify what Narvalo is and how it protects.

The PPE , available with different levels of protection FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3, with and without valve, protect the wearer from substances such as dust, fine dust, viruses and bacteria and, in the version without valve, also protect the surrounding environment, because prevent droplets from escaping. The versions with the valve promote breathability, facilitating exhalation, effectively allowing you to keep the mask on for longer by releasing a minimum of droplets from the valve.

What level of protection does NARVALO have?

Narvalo is a certified PPE , without exceptions, the only PPE among the products specifically designed for urban users, of reusable FFP3 level, which, by adopting the BLS Zero filtering technology, guarantees protection from 99.9% of dust, fine dust, including including smog, viruses, bacteria and even odors, thanks to the activated carbon state . Compared to the product for professional use from which it derives, the Narvalo offers a special hypoallergenic and water-repellent fabric in contact with the skin as well as an edging in specific material which guarantees an optimal fit even when wearing glasses.

Is Narwhal Selfish or Altruistic?

Narvalo is both things, born as an FFP3 mask with facilitated exhalation , therefore selfish, that is, it mainly protects the user. The filter and valve make it one of the most comfortable FFP3s on the market with a lower resistance level than an FFP1. If necessary, when you are on a plane or in a hospital or in a closed environment with reduced ventilation, thanks to the COVID cap supplied, the user has the right to transform the mask from selfish to altruistic as the cap, blocking the valve, prevents the droplet from escaping. In this case the breathability still remains of excellent quality as demonstrated by direct feedback from several users who have tried it.

Was Narvalo born because of COVID?

Narvalo was born in 2018, well before the COVID emergency, as a super performing mask to be used in urban settings to protect urban commuters, citizens who move around the city on foot, by bike, motorbike, scooter..., from smog , pollen and bacteria, what are called the "invisible enemies" in the air. A known and underestimated problem globally that is the Narwhal flag. In fact, in addition to protecting against the virus, Narvalo also protects against smog . Despite the ongoing pandemic and the lockdowns, the problem relating to SMOG shows no sign of decreasing. Narvalo presents itself as a "conscious" product which, in addition to protecting with its aesthetics and construction quality, wants to communicate to other people the need to protect themselves.

Surgical Masks

Surgical masks are disposable medical devices made up of overlapping layers of non-woven fabric and are equipped with laces or elastic bands that allow them to adhere, albeit incompletely, to the face. They provide a barrier against the spread of viruses and bacteria by blocking droplets of respiratory secretions - droplets - emitted by sick people who wear them, preventing surrounding people from coming into contact with them.

However, Surgical Masks do not protect the wearer from fine substances that could contain very small infectious particles such as viruses since the fabric is not filtering, so the air passes through the gaps that still form above, below and on the sides of the mask.

It is important to purchase surgical masks of certified origin and through official channels. It must always be checked that the masks have European CE conformity or are certified by the ISS - Higher Institute of Health.

However, even in the presence of these certifications, it should be specified that surgical masks do not guarantee the protection of the wearer as their shape and the weaker fastening system of PPE, which are often anchored to the ears, do not guarantee compliance with point 8.5 of the EN149 standard, i.e. inlet sealing.

The environmental impact and costs

In a recent article by Milena Gabanelli and Simona Ravizza, the differences between DM and washable masks certified in derogation of the ISS are highlighted. The article also compares the environmental "costs" of the relevant choices, especially in the school context.

The conclusion is quite obvious because the DM must be sent to landfill and should be replaced after 4 hours, therefore they constitute an enormous quantity of waste in landfill, while the washable ones could generate great savings in this sense. The fundamental issue is that there is no certainty about the effectiveness of washable masks and that these should be washed every day at high temperature. As highlighted in an article in Repubblica dated 15 October 2020 which refers to a pre-covid study and therefore does not analyze the real situation of the effectiveness of high temperature washing in relation to the virus. Returning to the question of environmental impact, less solid waste would certainly be generated by using washable masks but these could have a significant impact on the consumption of electricity, water and detergents. Therefore, wanting to calculate the entire LCA (Life Cycle Assessment), we do not have certain elements that confirm the thesis and above all it must be underlined that the problem of washable masks and their specific effectiveness, given that they are not PPE, depends on the user who :

_ must wear it well, covering the nose and mouth, which is not to be taken for granted;

_ you must take care of it well by washing it at least once a day at high temperature;

_ must replace it following the manufacturers' instructions.

In this sense NARVALO offers a different perspective . The filter lasts approximately 100 hours equivalent to approximately 30 days of non-continuous use. Once this period is over, also thanks to a message generated by the APP, which helps monitor the status of the filter, the filter can be replaced. The used filters can be sent back to NARVALO which, together with BLS, is launching a Circular Economy project which involves making the material safe by eliminating any pollutants still present on the used filters and transforming it into a reusable raw material for different uses.

All this with certified safety for the user and also for the context both in terms of environmental impact and in terms of respect for others with the use of the covid cap and finally in the medium term also economical because the cost of the filter, compared with i DM, is also lower in the medium term.


*The main categories of mask are PPE, Personal Protective Equipment or Filtering Masks, and DM, Medical Devices or Surgical Masks (European regulation UNI EN 14683:2019 + AC:2019). As reported on the website, PPE refers to the UNI EN 149:2009 regulation while the DM refers to the European regulation UNI EN 14683:2019 + AC:2019, they are therefore certified products that comply with certain standards. (for further information see the detailed table at the end of the article)

**There is a specific test defined in point 8.5 of EN149, which we attach for your information, which determines the leak test to ensure that the fit of the mask is suitable for multiple faces. In the industrial or medical field, users are also subjected to specific fitting tests, defined according to UNI 11718, to ensure maximum sealing in particularly critical environments.

For further information

_ Masks, better than cloth or "selfish" ones? The real rules for correct (and safer) daily use by Luca Monaco published by Repubblica on 12 November 2020 - which highlights the "duration" and washing methods of the various devices.

_ Certified and reusable: the new masks for the second wave of Covid-19 by Alessandro Vinci, published in Corriere delle Sera 29 October 2020 which places the Narvalo Urban Mask in first place as it is the only PPE among those selected.

_ Surgical, washable, certified masks: which ones protect best from Covid? by Milena Gabanelli and Simona Ravizza of 27 October 2020 - which compares DM with washable masks also making a calculation on the environmental impact, without however calculating the cost of daily high temperature washing of all fabric masks.

_ Covid: cloth mask protects but must be washed every day (at high temperatures) published by Repubblica on 15 October 2020 - which highlights how the cloth mask is only effective if washed every day and at high temperatures.

_ Masks, which ones are really useful and how they should be worn by Mariolina Iossa, published in Corriere della Sera on 3 October 2020 - which presents the basic rules for correct wearing in relation to situations.

Useful links

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1 comment

Bruno Merlo

Bruno Merlo

Molto interessante

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