The testing standards and regulations for medical versus non-medical disposable masks are far from similar; choosing the right mask depends on your environmental requirements for safety.

When it comes to COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE), the options for type and style have proliferated dramatically. But not all masks are up to the job and it’s important to understand the differences in efficacy and style. What works well for a beauty salon is not necessarily the right choice for a healthcare practice. Quality, breathability, splash resistance and filtration rating criteria should be taken into consideration.

Testing Standards for Medical Vs. Non-Medical Masks

In conjunction with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) evaluates medical face mask performance based on:

  • Bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE)
  • Splash resistance
  • Microbial cleanliness (Bioburden)
  • Biocompatibility

For healthcare use, there are two levels of mask efficiency: Type 1 and Type 2.

Designed for general medical use, Type 1 masks filter out a > 95% of airborne viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. This is known as the bacteria filtration efficiency or BFE; Type 2 masks are designed for surgical use and have a BFE of > 98%.

The efficiency of non-medical masks is far less than the required filtration for medical use. In a study from Duke University, researchers found that bandannas, gaiters, and knitted masks are the least-effective face coverings. For non-medical use, multilayer, tightknit cotton face masks are ideal in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

While the CDC states that a reusable, cloth mask is suitable for daily, non-medical use, healthcare practitioners will require disposable, 3-ply, fluid-resistant masks for optimal protection. Type 1 masks are suitable for general medical use by doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners in clinical settings.

For complete protection, Dr. Anthony Fauci recommends pairing a face mask covering with goggles, safety glasses, or a face shield.

TPH Provides PPE to Medical Facilities

At the beginning of the pandemic, TPH pivoted from packaging to PPE to support the local Chicago medical community, as well as VA hospitals and other healthcare facilities across the U.S. As featured by T-Mobile in a post, the TPH team put its supply chain and project management expertise to use to develop a pipeline of critical PPE for frontline medical personnel fighting COVID-19.

Today, our inventory of PPE includes over half a million medical-grade face masks and shields ready to ship to hospitals and healthcare facilities across the U.S. from Chicago. The Type 1, medical-grade face masks are:

  • 3-ply, pleated, and fluid resistant
  • FDA registered
  • EN 14683:2014 tested by a 3rd-party laboratory
  • ASTM F1862 standard compliant
  • Comfortable, latex-free elastic ear loops

Masks are available for purchase as cases and pallets for as low as $.40 cents per mask. Masks are packed 50 per box and 40 boxes per master carton (2,000 masks per case). For larger quantities, lower pallet pricing is available upon request.

To place an order or to learn more about our services, contact us at

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