Governor Baker’s office cites MIT test results showing masks distributed to state school districts 98% effective, federal tests show effective rate below 50%

Gov. Charlie Baker’s office is now citing test results from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, saying non-medical KN95 masks that have been distributed to school districts across the state are 98% effective at filtration, however, the results federal tests show an effective rate of less than 50%.

According to MIT test results, the masks, which were manufactured by Fujian Pageone Garments Co. Ltd., have an effective filtration efficiency of 98%.

However, tests on the masks conducted in June 2020 by the National Laboratory for Personal Protective Technologies, a research center within the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), shows a maximum filter efficiency of 45.80% and a minimum filter efficiency of 25.20%.

“These ratings were developed as an assessment of filter effectiveness for respirators represented as certified by an international certification authority, other than NIOSH, to support the availability of respiratory protection for U.S. and healthcare workers. ‘other workers due to respirator shortages associated with COVID -19,’ NIOSH wrote.

In 2018, NIOSH has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Food and Drug Administration which granted NIOSH the authority to approve N95 filtering facepiece surgical respirators.

As part of its standard respirator approval process for NIOSH-approved respirators, NIOSH conducts a comprehensive quality assurance review of the quality process and manufacturing site. None of the products evaluated in NIOSH’s international assessment results included reviews of quality processes or manufacturing sites.

It should also be noted that the filtration efficiency test performed at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory is not equivalent to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) standards.

According to the CDC, approximately 60% of KN95 respirators evaluated by NIOSH in 2020 and 2021 did not meet the requirements they intended to meet.

Following the distribution of the masks, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education issued a statement stating that some of the KN95 masks distributed to school districts in the state are “non-medical”, but still considered “highly effective”. against the spread. of COVID-19.

Prior to distribution, Baker claimed the masks had been tested by MIT and had an effective rate of 85%.

DESE later clarified that the masks had not yet been tested by MIT.

Merrie Najimy, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, claimed the Baker administration either lied about masks or was “incompetent.”

“Very incorrect statements are being made by Governor Baker and Commissioner Riley and their spokesperson,” Najimy said during a Joint Committee on Education hearing. “These are either deliberate lies or the product of simple incompetence because they’re not doing it now. They still don’t answer the question, have the non-medical grade masks that have been distributed to schools actually been tested? »

According to MIT test results, differences between the school’s and NIOSH’s evaluation of masks include only test samples cut from the mask, not full face masks; generate a slightly larger distribution of saline aerosols; use an optical particle sizer and not a photometer to measure the aerosol; and not loading the mask to the required level (200/150) mg/cm2.

Related content:

  • Masks provided to teachers have not been tested at MIT, DESE says
  • DESE extends mask requirement in all public schools through February

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