Under the new normal brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, personal protective equipment (PPE) is a must when going to public areas. With face mask certified by SIRIM, the public would not have to contend with substandard ones. It is feared, instead of providing protection, the substandard face mask may increase the risk of infection. The tests and inspections on the face masks are carried out by SIRIM QAS International, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SIRIM Berhad, at its accredited and state-of-the-art testing laboratories in SIRIM Complex, Shah Alam.
Speaking to The Edge, SIRIM QAS notes that, unlike the surgical masks used at hospitals, which are regulated by the Medical Device Authority (MDA), face masks worn by the public are not regulated in the same manner.
Substandard face masks carry risks of poor filtration, allowing for viral particle penetration that would prove ineffective to protect the user against the virus. Consumers are therefore strongly advised to buy SIRIM QAS certified face masks to ensure adequate protection against the transmission of viruses, bacteria or infections.
As such, the Testing, Inspection and Certification body says there is already a credible international standard for face masks – the BS EN 14683:2019-Medical face masks. Requirements and test methods – and that it is ready to perform product testing and certification to ensure that products in the marketplace are up to mark.
SIRIM QAS has several technologies at its disposal when it comes to testing. For medical face masks, it tests them for their Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE), Differential Pressure, Splash Resistance Pressure (Synthetic Blood) and Microbial Cleanliness (Bioburden).
Through testing and certification of above parameters, the compliance of the parameters is determined based on minimum or maximum limit it needs to meet. For example, its Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE) property needs to be at least 95% while Deferential pressure or Breathability needs to be less than 40 Pa/cm.sq.
SIRIM QAS says its face mask testing and product certification process for manufacturers provides assurances of safety and reliability to users.
“Our testing provides independent assurance that your products are manufactured under an effective system of testing, supervision and control. Thus, there is improved production efficiency and reduced wastage and rejects. It also demonstrates product compliance with national or international standards, ensuring your product functions effectively and safely while enhancing your reputation and extending your market by using the Product Certification MS trademark and security label on your certified products as a marketing tool.”
With the rising concerns about the current health situation, product conformity can provide assurance to the general public that standards of quality are consistently maintained. It enables manufacturers and suppliers to differentiate their products in the market and gain consumer acceptance.
Most importantly, the final decision is at the hands of consumers. When buying products, consumers should avoid substandard products even though they are cheaper, and instead look out for masks that have the MS trademark and security label by SIRIM QAS on them. With the MS trademark and security label on products, consumers will be guided to identify quality and effective product among the mountains of options available in the market. Furthermore, the security label comes with QR code where customers are easily able to scan and obtain certification information.
“Substandard medical face masks expose users to Covid-19, as they may allow viral particle penetration. Substandard face masks may be made from materials that are unsuitable for our skin and cause skin allergy. There are also risks of being infected with the virus, owing to the absence of proper filtration, a key part of the medical device,” SIRIM QAS notes.