Novel manufacturing of simple masks in response to international shortages: Bacterial and particulate filtration efficiency testing

Am J Infect Control. 2020 Dec;48(12):1543-1545. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2020.07.019. Epub 2020 Jul 16.


Many healthcare systems have been forced to outsource simple mask production due to international shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Providence created simple masks using surgical wrap and submitted samples to an environmental lab for bacterial filtration efficiency testing. Bacterial filtration efficiency rates ranged from 83.0% to 98.1% depending on specific material and ply, and particular filtration efficiency rates ranged from 92.3% to 97.7%. Based on mask configuration, specific surgical wrap selected, and ply, the recommended filtration efficiency for isolation and surgical masks of 95% and 98%, respectively can be achieved. These alternative masks can allow for similar coverage and safety when hospital-grade isolation masks are in short supply.

Keywords: Bacterial filtration efficiency; Homemade masks; Isolation masks; Mask shortages; PPE; Pandemic.

MeSH terms

  • Air Microbiology
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Safety / statistics & numerical data*
  • Filtration / instrumentation*
  • Humans
  • Masks / microbiology*
  • Masks / supply & distribution
  • Materials Testing
  • Particulate Matter / isolation & purification
  • Respiratory Protective Devices / microbiology*
  • Respiratory Protective Devices / supply & distribution
  • SARS-CoV-2*


  • Particulate Matter