The earloop protection masks. How do we test them?

the earloop protection masks. how do we test them? Masks and protection in the ongoing sanitary crisis


The SARS-COV2 infections can also be transmitted through the saliva drops generated when somebody coughs, sneezes, sings, speaks or breathes. Specialists recommend the wearing of an ear-loop mask made of at least three layers, capable of preventing or mitigating the transmission of the virus causing the COVID-19 infection. Therefore, the key function of a mask is to reduce the transmission of those drops, a relevant function, especially in the case of asymptomatic persons who feel fine and who are not aware of the dangers those around them are exposed to. We're actually speaking about some sort of social dynamics entailing responsibility and awareness. Wearing the ear-loop protection mask improperly my cause infection. Shortly after the breakout of the sanitary crisis, textile factories swiftly changed their production lines and began manufacturing the so-called fashion masks, which, apart from their attractive aspect, do not have any other quality. These are reusable masks, which casts doubt over their efficiency. How much protection do these masks offer, and how should an ear-loop masks be like, in keeping with the medical standards? An answer to these questions comes from the president of the ProConsumers Association, professor Costel Stanciu.


Costel Stanciu:


"A breathing protection mask, in order to be efficient against the SARS-COV2 virus must be made, must be manufactured observing one of the existing standards, the one pertaining to the filtering half-masks against particles and the one pertaining to the medical half-masks. Unfortunately, a third category can be found on the market (the so-called fashion masks) that does not offer protection against SARS-COV2. These are reusable masks, they need to be washed, ironed, provided all instructions are observed, included by the manufacturer on the tag. Disposable ear-loop masks come in two categories: filtering half-masks against the particles, which in turn fall into three types: FFP1 (they provide an 80% protection or more, in terms of bacterial filtering), FFP2 (cu o with at least 94% efficiency) and FFP3 (with a bacterial filtering efficiency standing at more than 95%). As for the ear-loop half-masks of medical use, they are of two types: type 1, with a 95% bacterial filtration efficiency, and type 2, that is 2R, where the bacterial filtration efficiency stands at more than 98%.


Filtration efficiency varies a great deal, in keeping with the quality of the fabric the mask is made of. At any rate, those who buy masks must read the tag, checking the bacterial filtration efficiency standards the produce complies with. There is a great number of  non-compliant ear-loop masks on the market. 


Costel Stanciu:


"Unfortunately, Romania has not tested any breathing protection mask so far, at the level of the European Commission there is a platform known as Safety Gate (the rapid alert system for dangerous non-food products) where EU member states upload alerts targeting breathing protection masks which are non-compliant. Three parameters are being tested for the ear-loop masks providing protection against SARS-COV2: the bacterial filtering efficiency, breathing resistance and the resistance against drops. There are several state institutions that get involved in the testing of protection mask compliance. The first one is the General Customs Directorate. The non-compliant masks ought to be stopped at the customs, with the documentation accompanying the respective masks batch being checked, especially if a certificate of conformity exists, issued by a body notified by one of the EU member states. And at this point, I'm speaking about the imported masks, since more than 80% of the masks are being imported from China. Producers and mask importers must test each batch that was imported from that country and, when the checking operation is underway at the customs point and the customs inspectors does not find that certificate of compliance, the respective batch is turned down, it is not allowed to enter Romania. Other European countries have found a great many non-compliant batches in the customs checkpoints, Romania has found only 3, maybe 4 such batches. The second institution which should get in volved in the testing of breathing protection masks compliance is the Healthcare Ministry, through the National medicine and Medical Devices Agency. The agency merely manages a database including importers of medical ear-loop masks and has not performed any determination regarding the compliance of such masks.


Another institution with related responsibilities is the National Consumer Protection Authority, which is entitled to check of those masks comply with the legislative standards. Actually, on November 13, through RAPEX, the rapid alert system for dangerous, non-food product, enabling quick exchange of information between the European Commission and the EU member states, Romania issued an alert for non-compliant masks that are available on the market, having the CE tag but which are not certified, the general manager with the National Consumer Protection Authority Paul Anghel announced. The produce has the CE tag, but it is not certified as protection equipment by a competent body. Recently, the Agency has temporarily removed from sales more than 31 million protection masks. The president of the institution, Eduard Cozminschi, stated those masks had been removed from sales until the remedy of deficiencies is completed, while other 90,000 masks have been completely removed from sales. One of the constant flaws was the lack of the "CE" mark - the certificate of compliance agreed by the EU. Flaws pertain to total or partial information, the CE tag was not applied, so the produce does not comply with the European standards, it was not certified by an authority which is recognized at European level, there were no certificates of conformity to go with them, there are no instructions for use and no manipulation or storage instructions. Unfair commercial practices have also been detected, meaning that through certain labels the consumer was misled into buying that produce, allegedly providing healthcare protection, Cozminschi explained.


According to the president of the ProConsumers Association, Costel Stanciu, the efficiency of wearing an ear-loop protection mask has been scientifically proven, yet we must take into account the quality of the mask: not just anything, not from anywhere, it should matter how, as for the fashion masks, they do not protect us from the virus.


Costel Stanciu:


"Unfortunately, the fashion masks are not individual protection masks, they cannot offer protection against SARS-COV2. Most of the producers mention that on the tag. These masks are rather anti-allergy masks, so they can be used by the individuals who are allergic to dust, pollen and that's pretty much it. They are more like dressing accessories".

(Translation by Eugen Nasta)



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Publicat: 2020-11-18 14:00:00
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