They come in an astonishing variety of colors, designs and materials, but what the 100,000-plus face masks that have hit the market don’t come with is a label that says how well they block infectious particles.
That could soon change.
A set of standards for minimum filter efficiency and labels indicating which products meet them are being developed for the bewildering marketplace for masks and other face coverings.
Guidelines are expected to be made public in January, after months without federal oversight of the quality of the masks and face coverings that have become critical to the fight to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has been creating guidelines with the industry standards organization, ASTM International (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials). The institute is a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“By having a standard in place, you will be able to know what level of protection is being achieved, and you’ll have a consistent way of evaluating these products,” said Maryann D’Alessandro, the director of the institute’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory.
Critics say the Food and Drug Administration could have done more to regulate the market.
“The F.D.A. could have issued a guidance that masks should be fitted, at least two layers of cloth, not made of stretchy materials, etc. Instead, there was a free-for-all,” said Diana Zuckerman, the president of the National Center for Health Research, a nonprofit health policy group.
Source: Read Full Article