First National Face Mask Standards Published

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As Americans near a full year of wearing face coverings to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, a technical standards organization has published the first national standard for consumer face masks, CNN reports.

The American Society for Testing and Material’s new standards cover such things as minimum fit, design, performance and testing requirements for face masks, CNN noted. They also would require user instructions, package labeling and a permanent tag.

“This standard brings value by specifying minimum design, performance, and testing requirements and allowing comparison of products by end users where current guidelines have been limited,” according to the approved ASTM standard.

To receive certification, masks must be tested in accredited labs, registered and use the proper labeling system outlined by ASTM.

Labels must show two testing criteria: breathability and filtration efficiency. Filtration typically makes breathability more difficult.

According to the guidelines, a Level One design would filter at least 20% of particles, but would have easier breathability.

A Level Two certification would filter at least 50% of particles but would allow less breathability.

Vents, valves or any other devices that allow unfiltered air to pass through the mask is not allowed under the standards.