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As more and more people around the world rely on the use of face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, SGS is proud to launch the first Independently Checked Mark (IC Mark) for reusable fabric masks, a new way for consumers in the U.S. and Canada to know if these products conform to industry and regulatory requirements.

SGS Independently Checked Mark

The new IC Mark tests and verifies products using key performance attributes from the recently published industry consensus standard, ASTM F3502 Standard Specification for Barrier Face Coverings.

The Mark gives manufacturers and retailers a greater ability to demonstrate their focus on quality and performance, to create and supply products that meet or exceed the minimum legal requirements. In addition, its widespread use will provide consumers across North America with at-a-glance assurance that products satisfy safety and performance claims, and meet regulatory standards.

"Consumers need reassurance from manufacturers and retailers that the reusable fabric masks they are using are performing as intended", says Matthew McGarrity, Senior PPE Technical Manager for SGS North America. He adds, "They also need to know important criteria such as how many laundering cycles their masks can go through until they are no longer of use."

SGS in North America, along with other industry experts, helped draft the ASTM F3502 Standard Specification for Barrier Face Coverings. Its criteria include minimum design, performance, and care/use instructions.

Working with leading experts in textiles, filtration and restricted substances, SGS drafted various domestic and mask/face covering guidelines. The IC Mark approval process tests for:

  • Breathability
  • Particle filtration efficiency
  • Labeling
  • Strap attachment strength
  • Service life claims
  • Restricted substances
  • Flammability

SGS's global network of independent laboratories will receive samples drawn at random for testing. On completion, all test results are published online. Each IC Mark awarded includes a QR code on the product packaging which consumers can scan from their cell phone to get instant access to the test results.

Information available to consumers includes a brief description of the product with an image, the date and scope of the test, the test criteria and results, plus the approval number. It also provides details of the manufacturer and any applicable retailers.

Learn more about the SGS Independently Checked Mark for Reusable Face Masks >

SGS Medical PPE Services

From public transport to intensive care units, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has never been more important. Protecting people from COVID-19 is the number one priority for individuals, business, organizations and governments.

As more individuals turn to reusable face masks, most often 'do-it-yourself' (DIY) made from fabric, countries have begun to develop regulations, standards and guidelines to ensure their proficiency.

Our global network of PPE experts and accredited laboratories can ensure the effectiveness and compliance of face masks and PPE products with testing and certification requirements, help with technical files and coordinate with Notified Bodies for EC type examinations.

For further information, please contact:

Matthew McGarrity
Senior PPE Technical Manager
SGS North America
t: +1 (973) 575 5252

About SGS

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 89,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 2,600 offices and laboratories around the world.