The Eurecat technology centre is to provide testing of the face masks and their components which are starting to be produced to remedy the shortage of this medical equipment for combating coronavirus. It will involve checking their effectiveness in terms of filtration, breathability and microbial cleanliness.

The tests will be coordinated by Eurecat at its site in Cerdanyola. Initially they will be carried out at the Eurecat Sustainability Laboratory in Manresa, the Biotechnology Laboratory in Reus, the Industrial Laboratory in Lleida, and the Applus+ technology centre in Bellaterra in response to the large number of companies, organisations and individuals making face masks that have so far been unable to ensure they are suitable and effective.

The analyses will be based on the UNE-EN 14683:2019+AC:2019 and UNE-EN 149:2001+A1 standards provided by AENOR and the scientific knowledge gained about coronavirus. The idea is to determine whether the face masks’ fabrics and filters deliver the safety guarantees set for alternative specifications to PPE masks with European CE marking published in the Official State Gazette on Friday 20 March.

This means the main filtration, breathability and microbial cleanliness tests to be carried out by Eurecat and Applus+ will allow manufacturers starting out in the production of face masks to obtain their rating based on the degree of protection they offer.

Specifically, the first class of face masks that ensure protection against coronavirus are surgical masks, which prevent the transmission of infectious agents from the person wearing them. A higher degree of protection is afforded by FFP2 and FFP3 face masks, which protect the wearer from inhaling hazardous particles.

Manufacturers and groups that have begun to design and make face masks using a range of technologies and materials will thus be able to find out whether they comply with these requirements and are suitable to meet the need for this medical equipment by delivering fully guaranteed protection in their intended uses.

The email address covidtests@eurecat.org has been set up to make the testing and validation process easier for manufacturers who are making face masks to ensure that all professionals who need them are properly equipped in the fight against the epidemic.