Only a fifth of 60 face mask brands available on the market passed Thai Industrial Standard quality tests, according to the Thailand Consumer Council (TCC).
The result prompted the TCC to demand the Thai Industrial Standards Institute require that disposable face masks follow safety standard regulations, instead of this being done on a voluntary basis.
The TCC in July randomly selected for testing 60 face mask brands including 14 kinds of disposable face masks, 27 brands of surgical face masks and 19 different N95 face masks. Testing involved assessing their quality based on filter efficiency of 0.1 micron and 0.3 micron, air permeability and pressure difference to find whether each mask complied with the standard.
The tests were carried out after concerns over the quality of face masks were submitted to the Upper House's committee on human rights, freedom and consumer protection.
Dr Paiboon Choungthong, a committee member on products and services for the TCC, said that only three of 14 brands of disposable face masks passed the standard. They are LOC, Medicare Plus and Iris Ohyama. But the Iris Ohyama brand over-claimed the filter quality for 0.1 micron as the result showed its filter was only 97.47% efficient, not 99% as claimed. The following 11 brands failed to pass: Zion, Lepono, Bestsafe, I-Tec, 3M, Asproni, Fidens, Life Mask, Microtex, Lanzhi and Yamada.
Regarding medical and surgical masks, only three of 27 brands passed. They are Nam Ah, Double A Care and TCH. The others that failed are: Next Health, Union Beef, Fidens (dark pink box), Live SEF, Welcare, Nice Mask, Topvalue Bestprice, Medimask, Betex, Fresh Plus (blue box), Kenkou, G lucky, Hyguard, Hi-Care, Fresh Plus (green box), Fresh Plus (blue box), KSG (dark green sachet), KF (sachet), Miss Med, Exta, KF (box), Watsons, Nice Mask (light green box) and Betex.
For N95 masks, seven brands passed the test: Minicare, Snake Brand, One Care, 3M, Welcare Black Edition, Ease Mask Zero, and Pharmatex. The following six brands were not in line with the standard: Cuwin Mask, Cuwin Mask (True Shopping), Mini Care, Pharmatex, Nobel Mask, and Kowa.
Saree Aongsomwang, secretary-general of the TCC, said the tests would help consumers buy better-quality products. However, the council was concerned that while medical and N95 face masks must pass a test by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), disposable masks are not in a compulsory category under Thai Industrial Standard regulations. Many of them have not been certified with the Thai Industrial Standard.
"The FDA and Thai Industrial Standards Institute should apply their standards to disposable face masks to ensure people's safety," she said.