ASTM Levels: Which Face Mask Do You Need?
After over a year of pandemic life, you’ve probably seen it all when it comes to face protection. But what type of protection is right for you, especially in the workplace? Thankfully, you’ve got options when it comes to face PPE as experts have already done the work for you to measure each mask’s level of efficiency.
ASTM International, one of the largest voluntary standards developing organizations in the world, is a not-for-profit organization that helps define and set standards for commonly used health and safety products, including face masks.
ASTM F2100 is standard that covers the performance requirements and test methods for materials used to construct medical face masks. The organization outlines three different levels for face masks, with Level 3 being the highest standard reserved for medical procedures and Level 1 being the lowest standard.
• ASTM Level 3: Ideal for procedures in which there is high risk of fluid exposure. Especially because of the recent pandemic, these masks are typically reserved for medical personnel while operating.
• ASTM Level 2: Ideal for environments in which there is moderate risk of fluid exposure. These masks are suitable for use when blood, fluid, aerosols or spray are produced. Examples include sealants, endodontic work, and some oral surgeries.
• ASTM Level 1: Ideal for environments in which there is low risk of fluid exposure. These masks are a cost effective solution for general, everyday protection against the COVID-19 virus.
Not all people or environments require a Level 3 mask, even if it is available. General use typically requires a Level 1 mask. Level 2 can be used for specialized situations, especially if harmful fluid is involved. Level 3 masks are typically used in medical and operating situations.
ASTM tests masks in five categories to determine which level they will be considered:
• Bacterial Filtration Efficiency – The rate of bacteria filtered through the material
• Differential Pressure – The breathing resistance or differential pressure
• Flammability – The flammability of the material is tested
• Sub-Micron Particulate Filtration – The percentage of particles filtered through the mask is tested
• Resistance to Penetration by Synthetic Blood – Synthetic blood is tested to measure whether or not it permeates the fabric of the mask
Wearing a face mask that has been ASTM rated will ensure that your nose and mouth are protected against fluids and harmful pathogens to the degree that your environment requires.
Safety Pros offers Level 3 face masks, along with other tested PPE products, to help you protect yourself and your employees in whatever environment you may work in. If you need help determining which type of face mask is right for you, please contact us.