What is a Barrier Face Coverings Test?
As stated in ASTM F3502-21, a Barrier Face Covering is ‘a product worn on the face specifically covering at least the wearer’s nose and mouth, with the primary purpose of providing source control and to provide a degree of particulate filtration to reduce the amount of inhaled particulate material.’ Barrier face coverings are different than N95 and surgical masks as they do not provide respiratory protection or fluid/particulate protection. Barrier Face Coverings Testing is done to ensure the efficacy of face coverings and compliance with ASTM F3502.
Why is this testing important?
Masks intended to comply with ASTM F3502 “Standard Specification for Barrier Face Coverings” should undergo the sodium chloride aerosol challenge (NaCl) to evaluate filtration efficiency and airflow-resistance test to evaluate breathability.
The following is a table of performance requirements according to ASTM F3502:
|Level 1 (Lower Performance)
|Level 2 (Higher Performance)
|Sub-micron particulate-filtration efficiency
|Air-flow resistance, inhalation
|≤ 15mm H2O
|≤ 5mm H2O
Note: Products may comply with either level of each test and should be labelled accordingly. This means there may be products which perform at Level 2 for the sub-micron particulate-efficiency test but only Level 1 for the air flow resistance test. Performance should be indicated according to the results of each test.
Bacterial-filtration efficiency may also be assessed, which may give more information about the performance of a barrier face covering, but results from this test are not required to claim compliance with the standard.
Barrier face coverings should be assessed for biocompatibility to ensure the materials contacting the wearer’s skin are non-irritating and nontoxic. Cytotoxicity, skin sensitization, and irritation should be evaluated using ISO/ANSI/AAMI 10993.
Flammability should be assessed per 16 CFR Part 1610 if the barrier face covering will be used in areas where there may be thermal hazards, such as flame, high heat, or electrical applications.
According to the standard, reusable products should be tested new and after the maximum number of laundering or cleaning cycles according to the care instructions.
A leakage assessment is required, and the manufacturer can report this through product-design analysis self-declaration, or they can conduct a quantitative test according to ASTM F3407 to supplement the product-design declaration.