EU-CEN Releases Industry Guidance for Community Face Coverings

The European Committee for Standardization
(CEN) has released a Workshop Agreement, CWA 17553:2020, offering industry
guidance for reusable fabric face coverings.

CWA 17553:2020 – ‘Community face coverings
– Guide to minimum requirements, methods of testing and use’, covers face
coverings that are not normally within the scope of relevant personal protective
equipment (PPE) and medical device regulations. This guidance document fills
that gap, providing minimum requirements for reusable or disposable community
face coverings and materials intended for the general public. It covers both adults
and children (aged 3-12, when supervised by an adult).

Critical requirements include:

  • Design: dimensions, adult and child sizing, material selection
  • Markings: instructions for use and cleaning, filtration level, and
    intended user
  • Cleaning requirements: reusable products shall withstand claimed number
    of wash cycles (at least 5) with a minimum washing temperature of 60°c.
  • Performance:
    durability, particle filtration and breathing resistance

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These products
are primarily designed to minimize the projection of respiratory droplets
(saliva, sputum, or respiratory secretions) when talking, coughing, or
sneezing. They are not intended to limit penetration into the user’s mouth
and/or nose of external respiratory droplets, although this may be a secondary
benefit. In addition, they will also stop the user’s hand touching the mouth
area when coughing or sneezing.

CWA 17553:2020 establishes two filtration
levels for community face covering materials:

  • Level 90%:
    greater than or equal to 90%, 3 (± 0,5) µm
  • Level 70%:
    greater than or equal to 70%, 3 (± 0,5) µm

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The material used in the community face
covering should also demonstrate acceptable levels of breathability, citing
multiple acceptable methods for breathing resistance and air permeability.

should be aware these requirements apply to both brand new face coverings and
those that have been through multiple cleaning cycles.

CEN has produced this Workshop Agreement
at a time when community face coverings are playing an important role in
reducing the spread of COVID-19. It is not an official standard and neither the
National Members of CEN nor the CEN-CENELEC Management Centre can be held
accountable for its technical content or possible conflicts with standards or

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For further information contact:

Matthew Mcgarrity
Senior Technical Manager
Tel: +1 (973) 461 1505



LinkedIn: sgs-consumer-goods-&-retail

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