Comfort, quality and safety with NF Barrier Masks

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the face mask has become the accessory that should be worn to cover the face, and kept at hand throughout Autumn 2020. The NF Barrier Mask certification is a hallmark that guarantees the reusable textile barrier masks created according to the AFNOR Spec S76-001 guideline are comfortable, efficient and offer a high level of filtration.

First the pattern, then the certification! Familiar to 84% of the French population and already affixed on many products for the general public and professionals, NF certification is now used for  textile barrier masks made according to the guidelines in the AFNOR Spec S76-001 document and its European equivalent, the CWA 17553:2020 – Community face coverings. A great sign ate a time when wearing a face mask in the street, public transport, shops and, since 1 September, in all the companies (except for individual offices) has become the rule in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A great sign not only for the people who wear face masks – like you and us – but also for the purchasing teams in companies and authorities for which face masks are now day-to-day purchases, in order to equip all their employees. As a complement to the official approval imposed on all industrial manufacturers of face masks, the NF barrier mask certification provides assurance that the manufacturer is audited each year on their manufacturing site. This sign of confidence imperceptible to end users since the packaging of the certified face mask bears a QR code associated to the current certificate, which lists the characteristics of the face mask and gives the audited manufacturing site.

NF barrier masks: four categories of certified face masks

Circulated by AFNOR Certification with COFRAC accreditation (accreditation No. 5-0030, available at www.cofrac.fr), the NF Barrier Mask certification is meant for industrial textile manufacturers wishing to stand out from the competition. It entails conducting tests with the Apave laboratory appointed by AFNOR Certification, to assess the filtration level for particles of a diameter of 3 micrometres, likely to carry viruses, and fine particles, as well as the resistance of self-adjusting fastenings. Comfort and ease of use (breathability, selection of materials, face masks worn for four hours) are also examined with a fine-tooth comb, as was their ability to still be efficient as the wash threshold recommended by manufacturers is reached.

Any industrial manufacturer which provides face masks may apply for NF certification. It may objectively promote the compliance with the public specifications, verified by a third-party AFNOR Certification auditor, on the manufacturing site. The manufacturer may only affix the NF logo further to this control and provided the result is compliant. In the absence thereof, a face mask cannot be regarded as certified by AFNOR Certification. Industrial manufacturers which have stock of textile face masks may also apply for certification if traceability is adequate and proof of tests can be produced.

AFNOR Certification lets manufacturers place their products according to a scale of four models of barrier masks, depending on the levels of performance and comfort:

  • A filtration efficiency > 70% for 3-µm particles, which corresponds to UNS2 masks for the general public;
  • A filtration efficiency > 90% for 3-µm particles, which corresponds to UNS1 masks for professionals;
  • The comfort face mask: they filter over 90% of 3-µm particles and offer increased breathability; 
  • The high-performance face mask: they filter over 90% of 3-µm particles and over 30% of fine particles (< 1 µm).