Understanding ASTM Levels in Face Masks

How much trust do you have in the fabric that stands between your face and thousands of harmful pathogens? With faux and counterfeit PPE products flooding the market, have you ever wondered exactly who is creating and holding standards for products?

When you have questions like these, you can thank ASTM International, one of the largest voluntary standards developing organizations in the world. As a not-for-profit organization, ASTM helps define and set standards for commonly used health and safety products, including face masks. Volunteers with ASTM develop technical documents that are the basis of manufacturing, management, procurement, codes and regulations for dozens of industry sectors.

ASTM outlines three different levels for face masks, with Level 1 being the lowest standard and Level 3 being the highest.

• ASTM Level 1: Ideal for procedures in which there is low risk of fluid exposure. These masks are a cost effective solution for everyday protection against SARS-CoV2, the COVID-19 virus.

• ASTM Level 2: Ideal for procedures 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 limited oral surgery.

• ASTM Level 3: Ideal for procedures in which there is high risk of fluid exposure. These masks are often reserved for medical personnel while operating.

Masks are tested in five categories to be placed in their respective level:

• Flammability – How flammable is the material?

• Bacterial Filtration Efficiency – What rate of bacteria is filtered through the mask?

• Differential Pressure – What is the breathing resistance or differential pressure?

• Sub-Micron Particulate Filtration – What percentage of particles are filtered through the mask?

• Resistance to Penetration by Synthetic Blood – Can synthetic blood permeate the fabric of the mask?

The type of mask you need depends upon the environment you will be wearing it in. Wearing a face mask that has been ASTM-rated will ensure that your nose and mouth are protected against fluids, microorganisms, and harmful pathogens.

 Global Sourcing offers both Level 2 and Level 3 face masks, along with other tested PPE products, to help you protect yourself and your employees. If you need help determining which type of face mask is right for your environment, please contact us.