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SKZ starts testing respiratory masks

Initiative for containing the coronavirus pandemic

04/05/2020

The SKZ's accredited test laboratory has procured a machine for testing respiratory masks (FFP 1, FFP 2 and FFP 3), which will be available from calendar week 22.  This test device makes it possible to carry out a number of the most important tests, such as inhalation and exhalation resistance and passage of particles through filter masks.

As early as the beginning of April, the SKZ in Würzburg was classified as systemically important by the authorities because, among other things, numerous indispensable product tests are carried out here for the health, hygiene and infrastructural sectors.

Due to the corona crisis, there is currently a very high demand for personal protective equipment (PPE), e.g. respirators.
So-called filtering facepiece respirators (FFP) are an effective means of reducing the risk of infection, since the coronaviruses are essentially transmitted via a droplet infection.

However, there are worldwide bottlenecks regarding the production capacities for the liner material required for FFP masks. According to recent news reports, this situation has led to millions of defective and thus unsuitable protective masks made in China having entered the European market. This instance makes it clear how important it is to test the suitability and adequacy of these products.

As advised by the EU Commission, in the context of the health threat caused by COVID the 19 market surveillance authorities may define simplified procedures for the procurement of so-called corona pandemic respirators (CPA). By means of a summary procedure, technically suitable masks shall be approved for provision," explains Dr. Jürgen Wüst, deputy managing director of SKZ-Testing.

This is where the SKZ's activities come in. An automatic testing machine has been ordered that is to carry out a number of important tests out of a reduced CPA test programme. The masks' particle permeability, for example, can be checked by the machine using paraffin oil mist, a so-called paraffin aerosol. By atomizing paraffin oil, an aerosol of paraffin oil droplets is generated with defined particle size distribution. The concentration of the aerosol is measured at each side of the tested filter. The lower the permeability of the filter masks, the higher their protective effect.

"In this context," continues Wüst, "it is important to know that, apart from offering our customers initial tests of protective masks, we can also carry out quality tests on incoming deliveries."

The SKZ test laboratory will also advise customers with inquiries regarding the testing of various personal protective equipment, such as gloves, coats or face protection, in order to make a valuable contribution to containing the corona pandemic.

Testing plastic products in accordance with more than 1,000 standards and technical regulations, the SKZ's test laboratory is independent, neutral and accredited in accordance with DIN EN ISO/IEC 17025. Test activities usually go hand in hand with the measures for quality assurance, which are initiated by an inspection body of type A, accredited according to DIN EN ISO/IEC 17020.

In addition, the SKZ's product certification body is accredited according to the DIN EN ISO/IEC 17065 standard, thus demonstrating its extensive expertise as a conformity assessment body.

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Deputy managing director Dr. Jürgen Wüst is delighted that apart from offering their customers initial tests of protective masks, SKZ-Testing can also carry out quality tests on larger quantities of incoming deliveries.