France Increases Filtration Efficiency Requirements for Face Masks

In response to the latest changes in the COVID-19 pandemic, the
French Government has recently issued a decree that recommends only face
covering masks with a filtration efficiency of at least 90% be used.

Issued on January 27, 2021, with the Cross Ministries Note updated
on January 28, 2021, Decree No. 2021-76 takes on board the recommendations of
the Public Health High Council (Haut conseil de la Santé publique). It states:

– Face masks are mandatory in all public areas
– Compliant and non-compliant masks must be separated at the point
of sale
– Distributors must inform consumers when masks comply, or not, with
the recommendations
– Face masks must comply with one of the following category requirements:

  • Surgical masks are defined as medical devices and must conform to
    EN 14683+AC:2019 (or equivalent)
  • Imported masks, with surgical shape, excluding textile fabric
    masks, which performs at a level that is at least equal to those mentioned in
    the fourth bullet point
  • Mask FFP2 or FFP3 (EN 149 or equivalent) without respiratory
  • Masks for Non-Sanitary Use (UNS) complying with:
    1. Particle filtration efficiency greater than 90% (3 microns)
    2. Breathability
      allowing wearing the mask for 4 hours
    3. Air
      permeability greater than 96L/m²/s (depression 100Pa)
    4. Good
      fit of the mask on the face, no sagittal seam
    5. If
      reusable, more than 5 washes

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Stakeholders should be aware that these requirements must be
checked by an approved third-party laboratory in accordance with the conditions
in the Decree. It should also be noted that reusable textile masks can still be
used if they comply with requirements in the decree.

The main purpose and requirements are similar with previous
version of Cross Ministries Note:

  • Care cycle – 40°C (instead of 60), can be machine washed or
    handwashed, drying can be air dry or tumble dry and ironing depends on
    manufacturer’s instruction
  • Filtration efficiency must be greater than 90% (strictly)
  • Test method remains DGA method Annex 2
  • Updated logo must be affixed to product, label or packaging
  • Consumers must be given relevant information prior to purchasing, even
    for online and mail order sales
  • Previous logo for Cat 1 can be used until the December 31, 2021 for
    goods that have been produced or imported before March 1, 2021
  • Mask Cat 2 can no longer be sold as Masque Grand Public
  • Data record requested by DGE (on their website) is applicable
    until March 31, 2021. The obligation ceases to be applicable after April 1, 2021,
    but may remain voluntary to allow market surveillance and customs to check
  • Masks with “Grand Public filtration supérieure à 90%” must
    clearly be marked stating they cannot be washed over 50 times.

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The update follows various mutations of the coronavirus, which may
be more contagious and/or more dangerous.

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