Mask Quality Test
A mask is a protective accessory that is generally made of fabric, leather, cloth or plastic and is worn on the face to protect it from external influences such as viruses. It may be named differently as a result of the application of tests such as mask quality testing. Various tests are applied to both surgical face masks and medical masks suitable for general use in advanced mask testing laboratories. These mask quality tests are required and used to classify masks and determine their performance. Mask quality testing is of great importance for the hospital staff to continue their profession properly and because we need to protect ourselves due to the epidemic we are struggling with today.
Mask quality tests can be done based on many variables. In line with these variables, masks are examined in two groups as surgical and respiratory system protective masks. Surgical masks, also known as medical masks, are produced in accordance with TS EN 14683 standards. Care should be taken to ensure that it provides the necessary conditions in terms of appearance and structure. Most of the time, the masks preferred by the companies that employ personnel and workers are described as respiratory protective masks.
Mask quality test is carried out with special devices by simulating the human face in line with the substances determined by the relevant standards, in a way to provide a certain pressure and air flow. It is not carried out with a real bacteria or virus. By providing size simulation editing, virus or bacterial transmission can be calculated. In addition, in mask quality tests, the controls of the permeability of blood, liquid and chemicals that can penetrate from one side of the mask to the other are simulated by various hydrostatic test devices. With the help of air permeability tests, the breathability of the mask is measured. Air permeability test cabinets are also used in these tests. For reusable masks, microbial activity measurements are provided as a result of washing several times. Face compatibility and non-flammability tests are also applied to protective masks.
If we talk about the mask quality test:
Various organizations that develop standards in Europe or the USA carry out various studies to determine methods to improve the tests and properties of masks. For example, the full name of the F2100 standard implemented by the American Testing and Materials Organization (ASTM): ASTM F2100 – 19 standard specification developed for the performance of materials used in medical face masks.
Mask quality test, some tests applied by the standard in line with:
• Particle filtration efficiency (latex particle difficulty)
Bacterial or viral filtration efficiency test
• Differential pressure test (Delta P test)
• Flammability test
• Synthetic blood fluid penetration resistance testing for face masks
If we briefly explain some of the applied mask quality tests:
What is Differential Pressure Test (Delta P)?
It is a test method that evaluates whether it is easy for air to pass from one side of the mask to the other. Its results indicate how easily the wearer can breathe while wearing the mask.
A high resulting Delta P value is considered a blowing effect as a result of the situation where air is difficult to pass through the mask. Exposure to contamination may occur as a result of air escaping or the mask not fitting the person´s face. This is due to poor quality or misuse of the mask. Even if it is lacking in terms of comfort, a higher Delta P value will result in better filtering. The higher the value, the harder it is to breathe. Masks with a delta P value less than 2.0 are considered appropriate.
What is a Bacterial or Viral Filtration Efficiency Test?
It is a test method to determine the resistance of respiratory material to the penetration of bacteria. The test result is published in the form of a certain rate. This result is related to the ability of the material used to make the mask to resist a bacterial penetration. If the result is high, it is concluded that the barrier efficiency is high.
The mask quality test method has been used for years without modification. It has also helped to provide a standard reference for filtration materials. The test is usually performed together with the Delta P test.
What is the Flammability Test?
There are oxygen and gas sources used for anesthesia in operating rooms. As long as these gases are used, they carry a high fire risk. For this reason, the equipment used in these areas must be resistant to fire. For this reason, various flammability tests are applied. In these tests, the masks are kept at a certain distance from the burning flame for three seconds. Necessary measurements are made. At the end of the test, the use of masks that may cause danger is prevented by grading.