ASTM F2101 - 14

    Standard Test Method for Evaluating the Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE) of Medical Face Mask Materials, Using a Biological Aerosol of Staphylococcus aureus

    Active Standard ASTM F2101 | Developed by Subcommittee: F23.40

    Book of Standards Volume: 11.03


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    Significance and Use

    5.1 This test method offers a procedure for evaluation of medical face mask materials for bacterial filtration efficiency. This test method does not define acceptable levels of bacterial filtration efficiency. Therefore, when using this test method it is necessary to describe the specific condition under which testing is conducted.

    5.2 This test method has been specifically designed for measuring bacterial filtration efficiency of medical face masks, using Staphylococcus aureus as the challenge organism. The use of S. aureus is based on its clinical relevance as a leading cause of nosocomial infections.

    5.3 This test method has been designed to introduce a bacterial aerosol challenge to the test specimens at a flow rate of 28.3 L/mm. (1 ft3/min). This flow rate is within the range of normal respiration and within the limitations of the cascade impactor.

    5.4 Unless otherwise specified, the testing shall be performed with the inside of the medical face mask in contact with the bacterial challenge. Testing may be performed with the aerosol challenge directed through either the face side or liner side of the test specimen, thereby, allowing evaluation of filtration efficiencies which relate to both patient-generated aerosols and wearer-generated aerosols.

    5.5 Degradation by physical, chemical, and thermal stresses could negatively impact the performance of the medical face mask material. The integrity of the material can also be compromised during use by such effects as flexing and abrasion, or by wetting with contaminants such as alcohol and perspiration. Testing without these stresses could lead to a false sense of security. If these conditions are of concern, evaluate the performance of the medical face mask material for bacterial filtration efficiency following an appropriate pretreatment technique representative of the expected conditions of use. Consider preconditioning to assess the impact of storage conditions and shelf life for disposable products, and the effects of laundering and sterilization for reusable products.

    5.6 If this procedure is used for quality control, perform proper statistical design and analysis of larger data sets. This type of analysis includes, but is not limited to, the number of individual specimens tested, the average percent bacterial filtration efficiency, and standard deviation. Data reported in this way help to establish confidence limits concerning product performance. Examples of acceptable sampling plans are found in references such as ANSI/ASQC Z1.4 and ISO 2859-1.

    1. Scope

    1.1 This test method is used to measure the bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) of medical face mask materials, employing a ratio of the upstream bacterial challenge to downstream residual concentration to determine filtration efficiency of medical face mask materials.

    1.2 This test method is a quantitative method that allows filtration efficiency for medical face mask materials to be determined. The maximum filtration efficiency that can be determined by this method is 99.9 %.

    1.3 This test method does not apply to all forms or conditions of biological aerosol exposure. Users of the test method should review modes for worker exposure and assess the appropriateness of the method for their specific applications.

    1.4 This test method evaluates medical face mask materials as an item of protective clothing but does not evaluate materials for regulatory approval as respirators. If respiratory protection for the wearer is needed, a NIOSH-certified respirator should be used. Relatively high bacterial filtration efficiency measurements for a particular medical face mask material does not ensure that the wearer will be protected from biological aerosols since this test method primarily evaluates the performance of the composite materials used in the construction of the medical face mask and not its design, fit or facial sealing properties.

    1.5 Units—The values stated in SI units or inch-pound units are to be regarded separately as standard. The values stated in each system may not be exact equivalents; therefore, each system shall be used independently of the other. Combining values from the two systems may result in nonconformance of the standard.

    1.6 This test method does not address breathability of the medical face mask materials or any other properties affecting the ease of breathing through the medical face mask material.

    1.7 This test method may also be used to measure the bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) of other porous medical products such as surgical gowns, surgical drapes, and sterile barrier systems.

    1.8 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.


    2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.

    ASTM Standards

    E171 Practice for Conditioning and Testing Flexible Barrier Packaging

    F1494 Terminology Relating to Protective Clothing

    ANSI/ASQC Standard

    ANSI/ASQCZ1.4 Sampling Procedures and Tables for Inspection by Attributes

    ISO Standard

    ISO2859-1 Sampling Plans for Inspection by Attributes

    Military Standard

    MIL-STD36954C(1973) Military Specification: Mask, Surgical, Disposable


    ICS Code

    ICS Number Code 11.140 (Hospital equipment)

    UNSPSC Code

    UNSPSC Code 46182001(Masks or accessories)


    Referencing This Standard

    DOI: 10.1520/F2101-14

    ASTM International is a member of CrossRef.

    Citation Format

    ASTM F2101-14, Standard Test Method for Evaluating the Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE) of Medical Face Mask Materials, Using a Biological Aerosol of Staphylococcus aureus, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2014, www.astm.org

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