In addition to hygiene masks and respiratory masks (filtering face piece/FFP masks), a new type of mask came to be used widely during the coronavirus pandemic: the «community mask». Such masks, usually made of fabric, are offered in a wide range of designs. However, this quickly made it necessary to pose the questions of whom these masks protect and how good the protection they provide is. As announced in the press release of 2 November 2020, the Swiss Association for Standardization (SNV) has been developing a Swiss rule on community masks in cooperation with experts. This standards document, which defines basic requirements for community masks and how they are to be tested, is to be published on January 29, 2021.
Whether hygiene masks, respiratory masks (FFP) or community masks, a great deal of attention has been on masks since the coronavirus pandemic began. While there are harmonized standards for hygiene masks and respiratory masks, no standards document on community masks existed, leading to uncertainty among both manufacturers and consumers. The SNV has developed a Swiss rule (SNR) on community masks in collaboration with experts from various fields, including aerosol and particle research, occupational health and safety, materials testing, and textile and mask manufacturing. Thanks to the wealth of experience of the authors of the rule, the SNR is based on both scientific expertise and practical knowledge from the field.
On January 29, 2021, the Swiss Association for Standardization (SNV) will be issuing a standards document that defines basic requirements for community masks and their testing procedures. This is not a standard in the classic sense, but instead a Swiss rule (SNR) – a standards document that can be developed quickly and with limited consensus. This Swiss rule is referred to as «SNR 30000:2021 Community masks – Basic requirements and test procedures» and defines the recommendations of the Swiss National COVID-19 Science Task Force in specific terms. The task force recommendations provided the basis for fundamental requirements for community masks in terms of splash/drop resistance, filtration efficiency and breathing resistance. In addition, testing procedures were defined and elaborated in more specific terms.
To participate in the development of standards for community masks, Switzerland needs a standards document that meets the formal standardization requirements. Through its knowledge and expertise in standardization work, SNV has ensured that SNR 30000 complies with these rules. Work is currently being done on a standards document with requirements for community masks on the European level. With SNR 30000, the Swiss experts have prepared a sound basic document to assist in decision-making regarding the European standardization work.
SNR 30000 makes reference to recognized standards wherever possible. The test procedure for community masks is based on the standards for medical face masks and respiratory masks. In addition to requirements for filtration efficiency, splash/drop resistance and breathing resistance, SNR 30000 also defines community mask reusability and design. Attention was paid to allowing for innovation by avoiding the imposition of rigid regulations on manufacturers.
SNR 30000 harmonizes the testing procedures and requirements for community masks and provides clarity for all stakeholders. Like most standards documents, SNR 30000 is applied on a voluntary basis. Manufacturers can test their masks themselves or submit them to a testing institute for testing according to the described testing procedures. If the community mask passes the testing procedures, the manufacturer is permitted to declare that their mask has been tested according to SNR 30000 and meets the requirements. The SNV will not be issuing a label for community masks. Consumers who want to purchase a high-quality community mask should make sure that the mask complies with the requirements of the task force recommendations or that it has been tested according to SNR 30000.
The Swiss Association for Standardization (SNV) is making SNR 30000 available free of charge until further notice. The Swiss rule can be downloaded from the SNV online shop.
The Swiss Association for Standardization (SNV) is the general, neutral point of contact when it comes to questions and requirements relating to standardization. The SNV act as a bridge between standardization experts and the users of the standards.