According to ASTM International’s (ASTM) Barrier Face Coverings (BFC) standard F3502, BFCs or cloth face masks are designed to control the wearer’s exhalation into the air, and potentially protect the wearer by reducing the number of particles inhaled. To assure protection, ASTM established minimum design specifications, performance testing, labeling and user instruction, and reporting and classification specifications for manufacturers to follow.

Intertek can help manufacturers understand these guidelines and evaluate fabric face masks for compliance with the following performance and safety testing:

Sub-micron Particulate Filtration Efficiency (PFE)
PFE evaluates particle retention or filtration efficiency of a mask’s material or filter medium at submicron levels. For the mask to follow standard guidelines the PFE must be less than or equal to 20% for a level 1 (lower performance) mask, or 50% for level 2 (higher performance) mask.

Air Flow Resistance, Inhalation
Air flow resistance measures breathability of the mask’s material in the amount of pressure it takes the wearer to inhale and exhale. To comply with the standard, the air flow resistance should be less than or equal to 15 mm H20 for a level 1 mask, or 5 mm H2O for a level 2 mask.

Impact of laundering
Reusable masks should be constructed of material intended for laundering or cleaning. This test is designed to demonstrate the service life or durability of the mask and specify the maximum number of laundering or cleaning cycles.

Flammability for Cloth Masks 
Consumer Product Safety Commission regulates wearing apparel for flammability according to 16 CFR 1610. Cloth face masks must offer a basic level of protection (Class 1 or 2 flammability) to the wearer.

Leakage Assessment & Quantitative Fit Test
A leakage assessment is performed to determine the fit to the wearer’s face and assess leakage around the perimeter or other areas of the product based upon an analysis of the product’s design. A quantitative fit test can be performed to verify the leakage assessment.

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