Face Masks: the new Centrocot laboratory

Technology and Controls

With the spread of Covid-19, several international organizations such as WHO (World Health Organization) and CDC (Center for Disease Control) have suggested the use of face masks to stem the current pandemic. This has led to an increase in their demand on the entire global market which, in the first quarter of 2020, exceeded a value of US$74.90 billion.

According to Grand View Research’s report on the study of the face mask market from 2020 to 2027, the compound annual growth rate is expected to increase by 53.0% to $23.8 billion.

European and international legislation classifies facial masks into different types and defines the minimum requirements:

– Community face masks in Italy are standardized by UNI/Pdr 90.1:2020. They are classified neither as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) nor as medical devices. This regulation was introduced during the pandemic to ensure adequate protection of the respiratory to the population, in the face of the difficulty of finding facial masks due to high demand. They also include specific types designed for sportsmen and women and for children (no younger than 3 years of age).

 

– Face masks for medical use (surgical) are standardized by UNI EN 14683:2019 + AC. Their purpose is the protection of the patient and healthcare personnel from infectious agents and splashes of potentially contaminated liquids. With the Covid-19 emergency, through DL No. 18 of 17/3, their use was also allowed to the population.

 

– The half-masks and quarter-masks are standardized by UNI EN 140:2020. Their function is to provide adequate protection of the respiratory tract against gases and dust and they are usually equipped with valves.

 

– Dust filtering half-masks are standardized by UNI EN 149:2001 +A1. They are designed to protect the airways against dust and aerosols both solid and liquid. On the basis of filtering efficiency and total and maximum inward leakage, they are classified in three types: FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3. The ones that have a greater protective capacity are FFP3, with a filtering efficiency of 99%, against 80% of FFP1 and 94% of FFP2. In the world these masks are classified through different legislations. The European standard for dust filter half-masks is FFP2, while for the USA it is N95 and for China KN95.

 

The essential role that face masks play in the daily life of each of us has led Centrocot to equip its laboratories with test instruments for the determination of the main characteristics of the materials to be used for the construction of face masks. In this way will be performed the main analysis required by UNI EN 14683:2019, in order to verify the functional conformity of each mask in the medical field. Among the requirements are the Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE), determination of respirability (differential pressure), microbial cleaning and spray resistance. Compliance with the requirements is essential as it ensures the correct efficiency of face masks and therefore the protection of the wearer.

In addition to the development of methods for face masks, the method for the determination of particle release (linting) required for all textile materials entering the operating rooms as medical devices has also been developed. With this new method Centrocot is now able to perform all the tests required by the product standard UNI EN 13795 concerning suits, cloths and surgical gowns for operating rooms.

For information: Dr. Gianni Tanchis, Textile Microbiology Laboratory Manager

gianni.tanchis@centrocot.it

Authors:

Jessica Barizza and Aiman Edres

Students of the course “Expert for research and innovation in the textile sector” provided by Centrocot within the training project “FutureTEX: the circular, bio and digital textile of the future”.

Gianni Tanchis

Head of Textile Microbiology Laboratory