As it seem face masks will be a fixture of the “New Normal” and the authorities only having the capacity to provide free masks universally for a limited time, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs (Consumo) has published a guide for the purchase/use of face masks, the guide (in Spanish) with illustrations is available through the link, most of the content is translated below

Ministry of Consumer Affairs launches a guide for the purchase of masks in the de-escalation period

Consumer Affairs aims for citizens to make a responsible and conscious purchase of this product, to be informed of what types of masks are on the market and which is more useful for their personal situation based on their contact with the virus.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs (Consumo) today released a guide with a set of recommendations to be taken into account by the population when buying face masks in an establishment during the de-escalation period.

The Ministry’s intention is that citizens make a responsible and conscious purchase of this product, to be informed of what types of masks are on the market and which is more useful for their personal situation based on their contact with the virus.

The Government of Spain, following the recommendations of the scientific community, suggests that healthy people without contact with COVID-19 make use of the hygienic mask model, always together with the recommendations for physical distance and hygiene from the Ministry of Health.

For those who have been infected, who have symptoms or who are positive asymptomatic, the use of surgical masks is recommended. PPE types are recommended only for people in contact with the virus, as well as for vulnerable groups and always under medical prescription.

In the case of healthy boys and girls from three years of age and without contact with COVID-19, Consumo points out that there are hygienic masks of sizes according to age, up to 12 years of age, and asks that adults supervise the placement, use and removal of these.

In any case, Consumo insists that the masks are only a complement to protection and that it is essential to continue complying with the other preventive measures recommended by the health authorities.

Hygienic masks

The hygienic ones are a complement to the social distancing and hygiene measures dictated by the Ministry of Health for healthy people without contact with the virus. They cover the mouth, nose and chin and are fitted with a harness that can wrap around the head or be attached to the ears. They consist of one or more layers of textile material and can be reusable or single use.

Surgical masks

The surgical models are those used in clinical settings and are recommended for people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, whether or not they have symptoms. This model limits the transmission of infectious agents because they are designed to filter exhaled air. Therefore, it is intended to protect those around the carrier by avoiding viral dispersal by sneezing, coughing, or speaking.

The surgical mask must have a mechanism that allows it to be fitted snug against the nose, mouth and chin.

EPI (PPE)

The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), sold in pharmacies and specialized establishments, is recommended to professionals in contact with the virus and to certain vulnerable groups, always on medical prescription. They serve to create a barrier between a potential risk and the user, filtering the inhaled air and preventing the entry of polluting particles into the body.

Depending on the degree of protection, they can be of type FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3. Filters containing against particles can also be of three types: P1, P2 and P3.

Labelling

Consumo also includes in its guide the information that the consumer should look at on the labelling of the mask. Thus, it recommends to check verification that includes the CE marking, followed by four numbers, to ensure that the product complies with the legislation.

It also reports on the reference to the UNE standard that ensures compliance with a quality standard.

On the label you will also find information regarding the reuse of the masks, how many uses it allows and how many washes can be done without the product deteriorating.

Other frequent questions

Finally, the Consumo guide contains a series of frequent questions. The Ministry tries to tackle the erroneous information related to the reversibility of the mask, its cleaning in the microwave, the use of homemade masks or others such as diving masks.