Face Mask & Half-Mask Respirator Testing

ASTM F3502 Face Mask Testing 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ASTM International published ASTM F3502 – Standard Specification for Barrier Face Coverings. This new standard specifies material characteristics and minimum performance criteria, with an emphasis on particle filtration efficiency and breathing resistance. The new specification also sets requirements for design features (like retention), labeling and marking requirements, as well as mandated product care instructions for reusable face masks. 

ASTM F3502 is intended to apply to ‘consumer’ type face coverings sold and worn as ‘source control’ barriers. The standard will directly address products that do not meet the definitions of a medical/surgical face mask, or the recognized existing standards for half-mask respiratory protection. This new ASTM face mask standard mandates testing by an accredited laboratory, such as ICS Laboratories.  While accredited testing is stipulated, achieving conformity to this new face mask test method imposes far less administrative burden (documentation submission) and requires a fraction of processing time that a NIOSH approval entails.

ASTM F3502 Independently Tested Product Mark

Independently Tested Product - ICS LabsIndependent testing of PPE is often an essential requirement for certification eligibility and a recommended best practice for legal due diligence with respect to product liability. Most significantly, however, is the advantage that independent testing of a product lends to consumer confidence, especially for protective equipment and other safety products. Where no mandatory or prevailing certification (and corresponding product marking) paradigm exists, ICS Laboratories offers its “Independently Tested Product” marking license for PPE articles that it assesses and is extending this program to ASTM F3502 face mask testing

The ITP mark program grants licensees the ability to utilize a mark that clearly identifies specific standard compliance and references one of the most established names in PPE conformity assessment, ICS Laboratories. Manufacturers who utilize the mark have the opportunity to clearly convey that their product(s) conform to the requirements of the ASTM F3502 standard for barrier face coverings, and that the conformity has been independently verified by an accredited laboratory. If interested in earning the mark, we encourage you to inquire with ICS Laboratories personnel about the availability for your product(s) and its packaging or accompanying literature.

Half-Mask Respirator Testing

ICS Laboratories offers accredited testing for FFR respirators. Referred to alternatively as half-mask filtering facepiece respirators, or the shorthand N95 or KN95, this type of RPE has been identified as essential to efforts to contain respiratory viruses, including the coronavirus pandemic. At ICS Laboratories, we test FFR respirators against the most authoritative standard methods worldwide. Our reports offer valuable performance data and demonstration of conformity for clients seeking NIOSH approval (N95, N99 and N100 type products) or CE-certification for the European market (EN149 FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 type products). 

NIOSH Standard Test Methods for Half Mask Respirators

ICS Laboratories is equipped and accredited to perform all NIOSH test procedures for varying respirator types, including those related to N95 masks. ICS Laboratories test reports clearly indicate if the tested devices meet the minimum performance criteria established by NIOSH for the applicable standard tests (to be determined by product features and type). Part of the mandatory elements of an application for NIOSH respiratory approval is the submission of pre-certification test results demonstrating conformity with the relevant requirements. The accredited reports from our team satisfy this criterion.  Note that the standard tests used to assess an N95 or an abbreviated protocol based on those same methods can be used to validate masks that claim KN95 compliance and/or performance.

EN 149 and CE Certification for Face Mask Type RPE

ICS Laboratories also conducts testing to EN 149 standards, the method to test filtering facepiece half-mask respirators relevant to the European market and its regulatory requirements. For Covid directed products, our technical team is referencing emergency RFU 02.075.02, which utilizes an abbreviated testing program for half-mask respirators. These devices still go through the process for CE certification, the facilitation of which ICS Laboratories offers through its working relationship with Notified Body CCQS. To achieve CE-certification of an FFR face mask respirator, contact our staff today to initiate an assessment.

ICS’s Accredited RPE Testing Applications

The same face mask testing and respirator testing to the standard method required for satisfying NIOSH approval (STP0003, STP0004, STP0007, STP0059) and EU CE certification schemes is also regularly contracted outside the approval/certification context by clients seeking:

  • QC/batch testing
  • Independent confirmation of internal test results for QA purposes
  • Qualification of masks that have been subjected to unknown storage conditions, stored for unknown durations, or to quantitatively assess the effectiveness of various mask sterilization procedures

Our decades of experience in testing respiratory protective equipment represents several valuable solutions for the international respiratory safety equipment segment. To learn more about our face mask testing and related respiratory protection testing capabilities, contact our staff today.