Guidance for transparent medical mask technical specifications: Overview

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About this guide

This guidance document outlines the design and performance requirements for single-use transparent medical masks. This document only applies to transparent medical masks that comply with:

It does not apply to transparent face coverings used for communications, as these face coverings are not considered a medical device under the Medical Devices Regulations. Transparent face coverings only help to provide source control (that is, to help protect others from the spread of SARS-CoV-2 by an infected wearer) and do not meet medical mask standards.

About transparent medical masks

Transparent medical masks help reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 virus by an infected person. Like other medical masks, the materials are expected to provide some level of protection to the wearer based on their ability to filter out small aerosolized particles.

However, unlike respirators, the testing of medical masks:

Furthermore, medical masks do not fit snugly around the nose and mouth as do respirators. For this reason, their ability to filter very small particles (including virus particles in the air) is more limited than that of a well-fitted respirator. 

Standard medical masks are opaque. The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic (COVID-19) has clearly shown that these masks put a significant number of people, including health care workers and teachers, at a disadvantage.

Many individuals and groups would benefit from the use of a transparent medical mask. These include:

Transparent medical masks make it easier for the wearer to communicate. Visual cues are important to people with hearing impairments and special learning needs. A transparent medical mask allows the mouth of the wearer to be seen.  

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