Most brands of face mask fall short of quality test standards


Commuters on an electric train wear face masks to protect themselves from Covid-19 in Bangkok in July. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

According to the Thailand Consumer Council (TCC), only a fifth of 60 face mask brands on the market have passed quality tests according to the Thai industry standard.

The result prompted the TCC to require the Thai Industrial Standards Institute to make disposable face masks comply with safety standards rather than doing so on a voluntary basis.

The TCC randomly selected 60 brands of face masks to test in July, including 14 types of disposable face masks, 27 brands of surgical face masks, and 19 different N95 face masks. The tests were evaluated for quality based on the filter efficiency of 0.1 micron and 0.3 micron, air permeability and pressure differential to determine whether each mask was up to standard.

The tests came after concerns about the quality of face masks were brought to the House of Lords Committee on Human Rights, Freedom and Consumer Protection.

Dr. Paiboon Choungthong, member of the TCC’s Committee on Products and Services, said only three out of 14 brands of disposable face masks met the standard. They are LOC, Medicare Plus, and Iris Ohyama. But the Iris Ohyama brand overused the filter quality for 0.1 microns as the result showed their filter was only 97.47% efficient, not 99% as claimed. The following 11 brands failed: Zion, Lepono, Bestsafe, I-Tec, 3M, Asproni, Fidens, Life Mask, Microtex, Lanzhi and Yamada.

For medical and surgical masks, only three out of 27 brands passed. They are Nam Ah, Double A Care, and TCH. The others that failed are: Next Health, Union Beef, Fidens (dark pink box), Live SEF, Welcare, Nice Mask, Topvalue Bestprice, Medimask, Betex, Fresh Plus (blue box), Kenkou, G lucky, Hyguard, Hi-Care, Fresh Plus (green box), Fresh Plus (blue box), KSG (dark green box), KF (sachet), Miss Med, Exta, KF (box), Watsons, Nice Mask (light green box) and Betex.

Seven brands passed the test for N95 masks: Minicare, Snake Brand, One Care, 3M, Welcare Black Edition, Ease Mask Zero and Pharmatex. The following six brands were out of standard: Cuwin Mask, Cuwin Mask (True Shopping), Mini Care, Pharmatex, Nobel Mask and Kowa.

Saree Aongsomwang, secretary general of the TCC, said the tests would help consumers buy better quality products. However, the council was concerned that while medical and N95 face masks must pass a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) test, disposable masks are not a mandatory category under the regulations of the Thai industry standard. Many of them are not certified to the Thai industry standard.

“The FDA and the Thai Industrial Standards Institute should apply their standards to single-use face masks to keep people safe,” she said.


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