Bacteria levels on six Hong Kong-manufactured masks exceed standards laid out by the European Union, according to the Consumer Council. According to a report published by the Council, tests run on 30 single-use masks — 28 of which are made in the SAR and two of which are produced in the Mainland — the biggest offender surpassed the EU limit by more than six times.
The tests were run on 21 models of flat masks and nine 3D mask models, which were assessed on criteria such as microbiological content, filtration, resistance to penetration by synthetic blood, mask harness tension, comfort and breathability.
Six models had bioburden levels (the measurement of bacteria found on a surface) of 65.1 to more than 219.9 colony-forming units per gram, exceeding the limit of 30 imposed by the EU. The mask brand with the highest levels of bacteria exceeded the EU limit by more than six times.
While all 30 models scored above 95% in terms filtration efficacy, 19 of the total models tested fell short of filtration claims. In addition, two models did not perform well on tests for resistance to penetration by synthetic blood, which is also used to a mask’s gauge water resistance and leak resistance ability.
The tests also discovered that some samples from four models of masks had poor breathability. Some samples did not fare well in the mask harness tension test, which found that seven models had at least one sample that tore at a tension lower than the minimum requirement. All the masks under scrutiny were found not to contain carcinogenic azo dyes and are therefore safe to use.
The Council noted that “despite ‘surgical masks’ generally being considered as medical devices, Hong Kong currently has no specific legislation that regulates the manufacture, import, export, sale and use of medical devices”. The Council also urges that requirements for the quality of face masks as well as strengthening regulation be heightened.
Header image credits: Jamie Floyd via Flickr