Annual Report
2020 - 2021

Testing Protective Masks →→→ As case numbers rose in the coronavirus pandemic, the demand for safe protective masks also rose sharply. As an expert in testing personal protective equipment (PPE), DEKRA responded very quickly and is now running what is the largest testing laboratory in Europe.

Product Testing

PROTECTIVE MASKS

COVID-19

In DEKRA’s specialized lab in Essen, the white masks stand out sharply against the black heads of the dummies. Listen closely, and you will hear a sound reminiscent of human breathing. The noise demonstrates the resistances when breathing in and out with the mask on. The resistances must not exceed defined limit values to ensure that physical work can be carried out while wearing a mask. Another important aspect of the mask testing process is checking whether the mask can be permeated by aerosols. For this purpose, DEKRA’s experts use both sodium chloride and paraffin oil as test media. For an FFP2 mask, the limit value is below six percent. By comparison, an FFP3 mask is permitted to let in less than one percent of aerosols.

MASK TESTING

 

As was the case until March 2020, since October 2020 it has once again only been permitted to market FFP2 and FFP3 masks that have undergone the EU conformity evaluation process in accordance with EU Regulation 2016/425 on PPE, thus meeting the requirements of EU standards EN149:2001 and A1:2009. They receive the CE mark with the testing institution’s four-digit number. DEKRA’s number is 0158. “Before the pandemic, we tested three or four mask brands in accordance with EN149 each year,” says Jörg-Timm Kilisch, Managing Director of DEKRA Testing & Certification. “Now it’s up to 30 each month.”

In DEKRA’s climate test cabinet in Essen, the temperature can reach up to 70 degrees Celsius. After more than 2 days, the experts remove the masks to assess their durability. The test on the running belt machine is just as realistic. It tests whether the mask remains correctly fitted during movements such as walking, nodding, and speaking. They then test how tightly it lies on the face, and whether it is also suitable for people who wear glasses or have beards. If the glasses fog up during the positioning test, the mask fails.

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We remain in regular communication with the German federal and state governments, for questions concerning the safety of masks, and on setting up a mask production facility in Germany.

Support from Governments

“Our expertise when it comes to testing masks is called upon for more than just testing and certifying individual models,” says Jörg-Timm Kilisch. “We also remain in regular communication with the German federal and state governments.” This is for questions concerning the safety of masks, as well as setting up a mask production facility in Germany. The German federal government is aiming to expand manufacturing in Germany further and thus become independent of deliveries from abroad.

Protection Classes of FFP Masks
FFP masks are available in the protection classes FFP1, FFP2, and FFP3, and are subject to a Europe-wide standard (EN149). FFP stands for “Filtering Face Piece.” While FFP1 masks protect against non-toxic dust, FFP2 masks are suited to protection against solid and fluid dusts, smoke, and aerosols that are harmful to health, as well as transmittable infectious agents such as SARS-CoV-2. FFP3 masks offer the highest degree of protection, as they filter out up to 99% of harmful substances and aerosols.

COMMUNICATION

»We remain in regular communication with the German federal and state governments, for questions concerning the safety of masks, and on setting up a mask production facility in Germany.«
Jörg-Timm Kilisch
[Managing Director, DEKRA Testing and Certification GmbH]

Always in the loop

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