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What are ASTM Levels in Mask Manufacturing?

What are ASTM Levels in Mask Manufacturing?

Face masks may look the same, but each mask is designed for a special purpose. And to serve the purpose, it needs to be certified. This certification is obtained after clearing certain mandatory performance tests. ASTM (American Society of Testing and Materials) International sets preferred International standards for healthcare and PPE kits to ensure safety and health hazards. It also defined the quality parameters of face masks.

Why ASTM is important?

It sets the benchmark for quality, price and performance. Before setting up the performance rating, it conducts several tests. These tests are based on several parameters, which are:

Fluid Resistance: This test checks the permeability of the mask when it comes in contact with any fluid. The greater the resistance showed towards the fluid, the better is the rating.

Fluid resistance test


BFE (Bacteria Filtration efficiency): This test is significant as it determines the percentage of bacteria that passes through every 3 microns of surface area.

BFE Test for Masks

Particulate Filtration (PFE): This is another important aspect that shows what percentage of sub-micron particles are filtered every 0.1microns of the surface area.

PFE Test

Breathability: This is another important factor for testing, as it tests the amount of airflow while wearing the mask. A face mask with a decreased breathing resistance demonstrates two things: a lower filtration rate and a high level of comfort for extended use.

breathability test

Flammability: This test testifies that the material used in designing gets burnt or can spread flames or not.

flame test

There are three numerical ratings while differentiating the levels of ASTM. These are:

  1. Level 1: Low barrier Protection
  2. Level 2: Moderate barrier protection
  3. Level 3: High barrier protection

The following table gives you a brief idea of how the performance matrix for each level varies:






Fluid Resistance(mmHg)








PFE(0.1 micron)




Breathability(mm H20)





Class 1

Class 1

Class 1


Now, that we know the ASTM level of a mask is important. Now let’s go to the 2nd part where we will come to know that how a common man would know the ASTM level of the mask that he/she has purchased or purchased from.

How does a user know the ASTM level of a mask?

When purchasing a mask, check the box for information on the ASTM level, fluid protection PPE, and the whole ASTM F2100-11 STANDARDS component matrix. If you can't locate any information about these terms, then your mask may not be meeting standards of ASTM levels.

ASTM level 1 Mask

We recognise that these levels are difficult to comprehend. The good news is that, unlike handmade cloth masks, even an ASTM level 1 mask provides excellent resistance and protection against these lethal varieties. A level 1 mask has good breathability, making it ideal for daily usage. These level masks will be ideal to use if you do not dwell in high-intensity COVID zones.

ASTM level 2 & 3 Mask

This mask is ideal if you are a COVID carrier or if you live in a high-risk contaminated environment.