Popular reusable face masks failed safety tests, according to research conducted by Which?.
The consumer organisation found that the best-performing face covering was able to block more than 99% of potentially harmful bacterial particles, filtering just as well as a disposable mask, but the worst product only trapped a third of the particles passing through.
Some of the face coverings with high filtration claims on the packet did not live up to them, and seven of the 12 had poor packaging instructions that failed to provide key information.
The Adidas product, sold at retailers including ASOS PLC (LON:ASC), Next PLC (LON:NXT) and Frasers Group PLC’s (LON:FRAS) Sports Direct, only filtered a third of particles, while the Vita Shield face covering dropped from 60% filtration on first use to 38% after five washes.
Adidas told Which? its mask was designed early on in the pandemic, before there were defined performance criteria for non-medical face coverings, and that its mask was tested for comfort and breathability.
The Vita Group said its face covering had been tested at external accredited testing facilities, which showed filtration levels of more than 90%. It said that the discrepancies in results demonstrate the need for mandatory, overarching standards to be put in place.
The highest-scoring face covering tested was the Airpop Pocket, available direct from Airpop or on Amazon.
Superdrug, The Big Silk and Marks & Spencer Group PLC (LON:MKS) also made it in the top list.
“Our tests show there is still work to be done to improve the quality of face coverings,” said Harry Rose, Which? magazine editor.
“We would like to see more manufacturers committing to minimum performance standards for filtration and ensuring basic safety instructions are present, but for now it is worth taking time to research the best option for yourself and your loved ones before buying.”