Quality PPE: How Do I Know If My Disposable Face Mask Really Works?

A group of people seated on an airplane, all wearing various face masks: disposable face masks, N95 face masks, and stylish fabric face masks.

To stay safe by wearing a face covering outside the home, it is important to understand that not all face masks are equal when it comes to filtering out potentially damaging airborne particles like coronavirus. Requirements for mask protection in public during the COVID-19 pandemic has only been exacerbated by a global shortage of PPE supplies. This shortage has led to common use of homemade masks, mask alternatives, and the procurement of face masks through ambiguous sourcing. Regardless of origin, wearing a mask of any kind is decidedly better than no mask at all, reducing the likelihood of an infected individual spreading the disease. However, many of these mask designs have not been tested in practice.

Face coverings should be evaluated for transmission of respiratory droplets:
• Filtration of particulates (see Filter Efficiency)
• Bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE)
• Resistance to penetration by synthetic blood
• Resistance to flame spread
• Source control to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by blocking droplets exhaled by the wearer
A recent study performed by Duke University suggests that certain face masks are not as effective as others when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19. It probably goes without saying that handkerchiefs, scarfs, bandanas, the neck portion of a turtleneck shirt or coat, etc., don’t offer as much protection as level 3 face masks, N95 masks, or other PPE specialized in design to offer COVID-19 protection. Researchers at Duke found that fitted N95 masks are very effective, and 3-ply face masks are second on the list. Cotton masks that cover the nose, mouth, and chin rank third as they help to block respiratory droplets from reaching people nearby. Interestingly, folded bandanas or neck gaiters are seemingly less effective than wearing no face mask at all.

A close photograph of the head of an attractive dark-haired woman with large brown eyes wearing a baby blue disposable face mask.

Researchers at ECRI, a not-for-profit organization that for decades has advised hospitals, government organizations, and other healthcare stakeholders on product safety, found that 60 to 70 percent of imported KN95 masks do not filter 95 percent of aerosol particulates, contrary to what their name suggests. Early indication from ECRI’s testing of nearly 200 masks, reflecting 15 different manufacturer models purchased by some of the largest health systems, raised alarms for ECRI, which issued a high-priority hazard alert. The testing was done according to rigorous product testing protocols, conducted by ECRI’s quality assurance researchers at the organization’s independent medical device laboratory. (Read ECRI’s full press release on this topic here.)

What to do with all this face mask information?

Buy your face masks from companies that give you the details. Some companies will even give you access to their face mask testing process.

Newly launched company, MRI, is not only open about the stringent testing their PPE is subjected to, prior to coming to their warehouse, but they are also proud to be born from philanthropy… with one mission only: to help. To date, over 1 million masks have been donated, and MRI’s desire to make PPE available to underserved communities is still at the heart of all they do. Therefore, MRI sells deeply discounted bulk quality PPE to the public.

See MRI’s Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE) Final Report

A chart by Nelson Labs which illustrates the results of MRI’s mask filtration on various test articles, showing a 99% filtration efficiency, expounded upon in this article.

Summary: The BFE test is performed to determine the filtration efficiency of test articles by comparing the bacterial control counts upstream of the test article to the bacterial counts downstream. A suspension of Staphylococcus aureus was aerosolized using a nebulizer and delivered to the test article at a constant flow rate and fixed air pressure. The challenge delivery

was maintained at 1.7 – 3.0 x 103 colony forming units (CFU) with a mean particle size (MPS) of 3.0 ± 0.3 μm. The aerosols were drawn through a six-stage, viable particle, Andersen sampler for collection. This test method complies with ASTM F2101-19 and EN 14683:2019, Annex B.

All test method acceptance criteria were met. Testing was performed in compliance with U.S. FDA good manufacturing practice (GMP) regulations 21 CFR Parts 210, 211 and 820.


Test Side:

BFE Test Area: BFE Flow Rate: Conditioning Parameters: Test Article Dimensions: Positive Control Average: Negative Monitor Count: MPS:



~40 cm2
28.3 Liters per minute (L/min)
85 ± 5% relative humidity (RH) and 21 ± 5°C for a minimum of 4 hours ~174 mm x ~152 mm
2.3 x 103 CFU
<1 CFU

A graphic showing an aqua-colored clip-art style facemask with the words “How well are you covered?” “WE WILL SHOW YOU” and MRI’s official logo.

MRI specializes in wholesale to major distribution channels. During this time of need, MRI has made it possible to sell to the general public in wholesale pricing.

MRI spent months finding the best manufacturers around the world – the same ones that produce FDA or CE listed products. Each manufacturer is given a compliance audit to evaluate factors like their manufacturer certification, delivery times, and our own evaluation of the final product.

MRI offers full line of available FDA approved face masks for industrial or personal use and protective gowns providing protection for liquids. 

  • Non-surgical isolation gowns
  • Daily use masks
  • General use masks
  • High performance masks
  • KN95 masks
  • N95 masks
  • Exam gloves
  • Test swabs



Contact MRI’s sales today at: (224) 268-6428 / Sales@mri-care.com

Official U.S. Food and Drug Administration signifying that MRI’s face masks have been registered with the FDA.

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