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Facemask/Air Filter Test Methods and Standards

The Waterloo Filtration Institute 2020 Annual Conference (WFI 2020) will take place online via Zoom, December 15-16, 2020, 8:00-12:00 am EST. The theme of this conference is “IAQ Health and Safety Solutions Associated with COVID-19”. It will address the critical roles of facemasks and air filtration during the current pandemic for public health and safety. The virtual conference will feature the following four sessions, and we will introduce to you the speakers and their topics in the fourth session on this issue.

1. Emerging Challenges and Responses

2. IAQ and the Built Environment

3. Facemask Technologies and Latest Developments

4. Facemask/Air Filter Test Methods and Standards


Comparing test methods for respirators, medical masks and barrier face covering to improvised methods used during COVID-19

Tim Johnson, TSI

The masks used to protect against COVID-19 have varied widely. There are 3 main categories. NIOSH approved respirators, Medical masks (ASTM method and FDA requirements) and face coverings (not currently covered by any standard). These are tested to different standards and methods. There has recently been an effort to standardize how these devices are tested. In this talk, I will describe the different test methods and the changes that are occurring to standardize at least some aspects of how the testing is done. Within the ASTM standards, there is a proposal out for ballot to adopt a version of the NIOSH respirator test method for PFE (particulate filter efficiency) testing in place of the method of using PSL particles and optical particle counters that has been used until now. I will give an update on the status of that proposed change. There is also an ASTM task group working on a standard for testing barrier face coverings for use by the general public. It is unknown what the status of this effort will be by the time of this workshop but I will discuss the status. If this proposal does become a standard it will create a category of face coverings that have the potential to be significantly better in terms of source control and protection for the user compared to the many products that have been in use during the pandemic.


An outline of current medical face mask performance requirements and testing

Janelle Bentz, Nelson Labs

Medical face masks and respirators have taken the spotlight during the current pandemic. With the increased emphasis on wearing face coverings an understanding of the testing required for approval of these products is imperative. An understanding of the difference between these two products and the test methods used to prove compliance is important for choosing the appropriate product to ensure the right mask is used for each purpose. Test methods can range from simple air differential tests to complicated bacterial filtration efficiency tests; each of these tests gives important information about the functionality of the product. Medical face masks are manufactured and tested with the patient in mind, and testing demonstrates this. Testing for these products is directed toward expected conditions in a medical environment and includes bacterial filtration efficiency testing, flammability testing, and synthetic blood penetration testing. NIOSH approved respirators are generally used in industrial settings and are meant to protect the user. Testing for these products focuses more on expected conditions when protection is needed from small particulates.


In-Place Measure, Monitor and Manage Air Filtration System

Associated with COVID-19

Stephen Nicholas, Past President at NAFA

It is no secret that our world has become rapidly digitized, and facility management is no exception. With the introduction of smart buildings and IoT devices, digital solutions are being developed every day to help facility managers save time, money, and energy. But while we attach sensors and monitors to just about every piece of equipment in our buildings, we often overlook the world’s most valuable asset... clean air. Utilizing clean air management effectively involves selecting the right sensors for your facility’s goals, compiling and analyzing the data to develop actionable insights, and ultimately using these data to make critical, informed decisions on what to do next. In doing so, your facility will realize significant energy, material, labour, and operating costs savings.


Latest Update of HVAC Air Cleaner Testing

Kathleen Owen, ASHRAE Fellow and 52.2 Chair

This talk is a work in progress. It will be an update on the recommendations for the ETF for using filtration to battle COVID19 and filter test methods. Thus, the content will change based on what happens between now and then. Likely discussion will be any changes in recommendations for MERV levels or to air changes including the balance between ventilation with outdoor air and use of clean/filtered air. As appropriate, this talk may include a discussion of schools, building reopenings, and other ETF topics related to filtration.


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