Key Terms in PPE

About this article: for many readers the world of personal protective equipment, aka 'PPE', is a world full of jargon and acronyms. Do you know your 'FFP's from your 'AGP's? Our jargon buster below explains what all those terms mean.... hopefully in plain English. Let us know what you think :) ..... 


Deciphering PPE's Key Terms

Our table of Definitions will help you decipher the key terms in the industry. 


'Personal Protective Equipment' is equipment designed and manufactured to be worn or held by a person for protection against one or more risks to that person’s health or safety


'Filtering Face Piece' describes a type of European standard of half face mask. There are three levels of protection in the European standard, being 'FFP1' , 'FFP2' and 'FFP3' which are measured according to the standard EN149:2001 in the EU PPE Regulation 2016. 


'Occupational Exposure Limit' is a standard that defines an upper limit on the acceptable concentration or amount of a hazardous substance in workplace air for a particular material or class of materials. 


'Assigned Protection Factor' is the ratio of pollutant outside the respiratory face mask to that inside the mask defined BS EN 529:2005 as the ‘level of respiratory protection that can realistically be expected to be achieved in the workplace'.



'Total Inward Leakage' is the total contaminated air that leaks through a respirator from various sources, such as the face seal, valves and penetration through the filter.



Aerosol Generating Procedure means a type of health or medical procedure where fine airborne particles (aerosols) are produced.  Aerosols – are considered small droplets (<5µm diameter) that remain airborne for protracted periods. 



The lowest category of filtering face mask offering  protection against certain industrial hazards with a minimum filter efficiency of 80% (see table below) 
derived from the maximum filter penetration allowed by BS EN 149:2001.



The intermediate category of filtering respiratory face mask with a minimum filter efficiency of 94% (see table below) derived from the maximum filter penetration allowed by BS EN 149:2001 



The highest category of filtering respiratory face mask 
with a minimum filter efficiency of 99% (see table below) 
derived from the maximum filter penetration allowed by BS EN 149:2001 
EN149:2001+A1:2009  The European standard for respiratory protective devices in particular filtering half masks to protect against particles. The standard is referred to in the EU PPE Regulations 2016/425 and includes requirements for testing and marking. It classified filtering respiratory masks into 3 categories: FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3. On 1 August 1 2010, an amendment to EN 149.2001 defined reusability of masks filters, indicated by “R”, reusable, and “NR”, non reusable, and amended as EN 149:2001+A1:2009.
EU PPE Regulation 2016/425 
The PPE regulation covers the design, manufacture and sale of personal protective equipment within the EU single market ensuring the the PPE (i) provides the necessary health and safety protection against the relevant risks and (ii) a CE marking is fixed to the PPE as evidence of compliance of the product with applicable standards. 
Melt-Blown Fabric fine mesh of synthetic polymer fibres that forms the critical inner filtration layer of a mask, allowing people to breathe while reducing the inflow of possible infectious particles. The fine fibres and pore size provide more efficient filtration.
SMS 'Spunbond - Meltblown- Spunbond' refers to a triple-laminate non woven fabric used in face masks. It is made up of a top and bottom layer of spunbond polypropylene and a middle layer of meltblown polypropylene.