6 face mask products fail bacteria tests: Hong Kong consumer watchdog

August 16, 2022

HONG KONG – Six surgical masks sold in Hong Kong showed “unsatisfactory” results in bacterial tests based on European Union standards, the city’s consumer watchdog said on Monday.

In a statement, the Consumer Council said it tested 30 models of single-use surgical masks in different colors and patterns for filtration efficiency, comfort level and the presence of bacteria.

The council said six models had levels of bioburden, or levels of unsterilized bacteria, that exceeded the limit of 30 colony forming units per gram under EU standards.

“Of these, the model found with the highest microbial load even had a value that exceeded the limit by more than 6 times, showing worrying hygienic conditions,” the council said.

“During the pandemic, members of the public are required to wear face masks for long hours at school and at work to prevent infection or virus transmission. However, if the hygienic condition of the face mask itself is unsatisfactory, it may cause skin problems on the face,” he added.

Among these, the model found with the highest microbial load even had a value that exceeded the limit by more than 6 times, showing worrying hygienic conditions.

Hong Kong Consumer Council

On the other hand, the board said 29 models had outstanding filtration performance with an average bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) of over 99%. The filtration efficiency of the remaining model was lower than its manufacturer claimed, ranging from 96.7% to 97.3%.

“The average BFE and average particulate filtration efficiency (PFE) of all models reached 95% or more, which is equivalent to meeting the Tier 1 requirement of the America Society for Testing and Testing F2100 standard. Materials,” the board said.

“However, while all models were able to provide basic protection to the wearer in everyday situations, over 60% (19 models) were found to have at least 1 sample with a lower PFE than advertised, which shows that manufacturers still had a lot of room for improvement in maintaining the quality of their products,” he added.

The council also tested face masks for resistance to synthetic blood penetration, simulated by blood or body fluid splashing onto the surface of the mask.

Sixty-three percent or 19 models completely passed the test with excellent performance, but in the test at the lowest pressure (80 mmHg), two models performed poorly with 7 and 26 blood-penetrated samples synthetic, respectively.

The models also underwent a mask harness tension test, with over 20% (seven models) having at least one out of four samples tested found to fall below the lower limit (10 N tension) set by the national standard.

Among them, three models even had all 4 test samples torn under 10N, meaning the ear strap could break more easily, the council said.

“The council urges manufacturers to quickly address this issue, as the need to change face masks frequently not only wastes consumers’ money, but also causes waste,” he added.

In a separate statement, the council said it tested 30 stretch mark products for pregnant and postnatal women and found 14 of them contained fragrance allergens.

Four models contained potentially harmful substances such as synthetic musks or phthalates, which may increase the risk of exposure to the fetus and infant through maternal transfer and breast milk.

“The advice reminds mothers who are still in close contact with their newborn babies, particularly those who are breastfeeding, that if they are to use stretch mark products on their breasts, they should choose products which do not contain potentially harmful substances. harmful”, it said.