New Consensus Standard for Face Masks Published by ASTM

Just days ago, ASTM International published ASTM F3502 – Standard Specification for Barrier Face Coverings.  This new standard specifies material characteristics and minimum performance criteria, as well as establishing labeling & marking requirements, for reusable face masks.  This new standard is directly relevant to face masks of the type that have been recommended for use by myriad governments and public health officials as an essential response (in addition to social distancing and hygiene) to the coronavirus pandemic that continues into its second year.  ICS is accredited to offer product assessments according to the newly approved ASTM F3502.


The F3502 specification addresses face coverings that have been recommended for use as a means to control the spread of the COVID-19.  It is intended to apply to “consumer” type face coverings that are sold and worn as ‘source control’ barriers.  It will directly address products that don’t meet the definitions of a medical/surgical face mask (see ASTM F2100) and also those do not meet recognized existing standards for half-mask respiratory protection, like N95, N99, KN95 and CE certified masks that meet EN 149.  It was developed by the ASTM Committee on Protective Clothing and Equipment (F23) according to an ANSI-accredited voluntary consensus process.   Members of ICS Laboratories Respiratory Protection lab sector participated in the collaborative effort that culminated the first standard for this type of protective equipment.


The approval of this document is significant, as it represents one of the first meaningful ways to benchmark the performance of barrier face mask products identified as necessary for the preservation of health and safety.  F3502 references authoritative test methods and evaluates crucial aspects of face masks performance, including inhalation resistance and filtration efficiency. Two different ‘levels’ with respect to the filtration metric are defined by the standard.  The standard is generally intended to dispel confusion about mask performance and quality.  It will allow consumers to be better informed about the products they  are considering for purchase or use to promote the health and safety of themselves and their communities.


ICS Laboratories has conducted specialized testing for products that have been central to the Covid-19 response and containment efforts for its duration and is now accredited to test to this new method for barrier face coverings.  Contact our technical team if you have interest in evaluating the performance of re-useable face mask or any other PPE (personal protective equipment) product. Contact Us


Note: In response to the covid pandemic, ASTM International has made health and safety standards available at the public for no charge.  For more information about ASTM’s collaborative efforts to advance PPE, especially that which intersects with the Covid-19 Pandemic, click here