The filtering abilities of a face mask are important to stop potentially harmful particles. This test is simple to build set up and can quickly gauge the ability of a mask material’s filtering abilities.

Equipment used:

  • SOLAIR 3100 particle counter or PortaCount Pro 8030 Particle Counter or other

Testing Principle

The particle counter produces a vacuum through which air is drawn and counted within the machine via a tube. The tube is connected to a pot to which the mask or material is secured. The rig presses the material or mask such that it creates a seal and air with the particles can only pass through the material.

A bench mark test/measurement is first taken of the particles in the air without a filter and then with a filter in multiple places of the mask. The measurements are compared and the filtering ability derived based on the difference in the readings compared to the bench mark test. A lower number of particles let through compared to the bench mark test would indicate better filtering performance.

The test uses naturally occurring particles in a room and each test takes a few minutes per mask. The test is hence suited for quick testing masks and find variations within the masks quickly before performing more elaborate particle penetration tests. This can hence also be used for validation.