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When looking for a mask, you may have heard of the term “ASTM-rated.” In this article, we’ll explore what ASTM and its ratings are, and why it’s important to consider when choosing the right mask.
ASTM, otherwise known as The American Society for Testing and Materials, is a global organization that develops and publishes voluntary consensus standards for products, services, materials, and systems. Over 12,000 ASTM standards are in use today, used by institutions and individuals alike all over the world to help test and rate products and practices for their quality and safety. ASTM Standards are internationally recognized, and serve as an indicator of quality and consumer trust.
ASTM provides a detailed standard (ASTM F2100-11) for medical face masks that covers classifications, performance requirements, and test methods that ensure the quality and effectiveness of materials used in medical face masks. This standard uses five performance metrics* to assign one of three ratings qualifying the barrier performance of the mask material:
Level 1: Low barrier protection - For protection against low levels of potential exposure to fluids. Suitable for general use--ASTM level 1 masks are the general standard for both surgical and procedural use, and provide basic resistance against bodily fluids expelled from coughing, sneezing, etc.
Level 2: Moderate barrier protection - For protection against low-to-moderate levels of potential exposure to aerosols, sprays, and fluids, used most often in surgical/medical settings.
Level 3: Maximum barrier protection - For maximum protection against high levels of potential exposure to aerosols, sprays, and fluids, used most often in surgical/medical settings.
Image from Cardinal Health
*Metrics include: Fluid resistance, Breathability, Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE), Particulate Filtration Efficiency (PFE), and Flammability.
Not all masks are ASTM-rated, so choosing one that is ASTM-rated ensures that your mask passes various tests and uses the proper materials to provide adequate barrier protection for your needs.
For general use in activities that do not produce large amounts of aerosols, sprays, or fluids, Level 1 masks have a >95% Particulate Filtration Efficiency and are suitable for use during COVID-19.
Level 2 and 3 rated masks use more specialized materials and adhere to much stricter requirements than level 1 masks. Level 2 and 3 masks should be reserved for physicians, surgeons, and other medical professionals in sterile settings. For general use, Level 1 masks are sufficient.
Again, it is important to note that masks are most effective when worn by the general population. While masks may not completely protect you from inhaling virus particles, they are effective in containing the respiratory droplets that spread them, thus helping to curb the spread of illness.
Advanced Products offers high-quality ASTM Level 1 Masks that offer a better fit, filter, and protection compared to other masks, both ASTM-rated and non-ASTM rated. Our masks, which are made in Taiwan, are tested according to extremely strict quality and performance requirements--a side effect of Taiwan’s position as one of the globe’s largest face mask suppliers and donators. Unlike many Chinese-made masks that are made with more lenient requirements and substandard material, our masks have gone through rigorous tests and standards checks to ensure that the material passes high quality benchmarks so that you can go about your daily tasks feeling protected and comfortable.
Looking for masks? We're here to help. Advanced Products offers high-quality, 3-ply medical face masks, available in both single and bulk quantities. Contact us today if you are in need of consistent, stable supplies of masks for your organization.