As you might have read in the news in a lot of countries, many masks that got imported during the Covid-19 pandemic turned out to be ineffective once they got tested in a proper lab. As filtration is nothing an eye can see, without a laboratory test it is hard to determine if a mask truly complies with the regulatory requirements.
Also, the difference in regulatory requirements between countries makes a mask that is approved for use in one country potentially not approved in another.
It is therefore key that you check
- If a mask has obtained a proper test result (Masques hygieniques and surgical masks) or CE certification (FFP masks)
- What standard the mask complies with. EU and US standards are the highest among the most common masks, Chinese standards tend to be on the lower end. Also beware that the “GB” standard that some KN95/N95 masks refer to is not related to Great Britain, but a Chinese norm.
Then, beyond compliance and test results, on a much more basic level check the filtration capacity of the mask. There are masks that disclose a lot of interesting information on their packaging, but lack clear disclosure on the topics mentioned above. Beware if the following points are not mentioned:
- Type of mask
- Applicable norm
- If surgical or Hygienic: BFE
- If FFP: CE certificate and number of notified body