Great news! There is now a standard for consumers masks! Yes, we are talking about the reusable and disposable masks that we’ve all been buying for the past year, but that until now, did not have a dedicated standard for proper testing procedures for consumer personal protection.
ASTM F3502-21, “Standard Specification for Barrier Face Coverings” is now going to change all that and set specific requirements for minimum fit, design, performance, and testing, as well as user instructions, package labeling, and a permanent certification mark from an accredited Certification Body on the product, to ensure the proper ratings.
This new standard is for consumer masks only and does not apply to medical masks or respirators used in healthcare settings.
The two main test criteria that masks will be evaluated for are Particulate Filtration Efficiency (PFE) and Airflow Resistance. The PFE test is used to determine the amount of sub-micron particles (that could be carrying viruses and bacteria) that the barrier face covering will capture. While the Airflow Resistance is to see how breathable the mask is.
It is clear that as well as a high level of protection from airborne particles, comfort was of particular importance to those that created this standard. That is one big reason we feel ASTM F3502-21 masks will be in high demand.
Many are wondering how soon the new standard will be adopted by the main regulatory agencies and how soon we will start seeing compliance labels on masks in stores. Well, we think very soon. The new standard was just recently announced and there is already a lot of buzz about it (https://cnn.it/2NJ061P). Health officials are also already supporting it and we, at LabTest Certification, are ready to go! We couldn’t be more excited to start testing to the new standard and play our role in giving us all the confidence that the masks we are buying have gone through thorough checks and are going to protect us.
When buying your next reusable or disposable mask look for the LC PPE Mark, your guarantee that what you’re wearing meets all the requirements needed for your protection and the protection of others.