Axel Fouqueau This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.1, Jérémie Pourchez2, Lara Leclerc2, Aurélien Peyron2, Yoann Montigaud2, Paul Verhoeven3,4, Tatiana Macé1, Alexandre Bescond1, Dominique Thomas5, Augustin Charvet5, Mathieu Ghijselings6, Pauline Hars6, Franck Polyn6, François Gaie-Levrel1

1 Laboratoire national de métrologie et d’essais (LNE), 75015 Paris, France
2 Mines Saint-Etienne, Univ Lyon, Univ Jean Monnet, INSERM, U 1059 Sainbiose, Centre CIS, F-42023 Saint-Etienne, France
3 CIRI (Centre International de recherche en Infectiologie), INSERM U111 – CNRS UMR 5308 – ENS de Lyon – UCB Lyon 1, Equipe GIMAP, Université Jean-Monnet, Saint-Etienne, France
4 Laboratory of Infectious Agents and Hygiene, University Hospital of Saint-Etienne, France
5 Université de Lorraine, CNRS, LRGP, F-54000 Nancy, France
6 HeX Lab, 145 Porte des bâtisseurs, B7730 Estaimpuis, Belgium

Received: June 21, 2022
Revised: December 2, 2022
Accepted: December 13, 2022

 Copyright The Author's institutions. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited. 

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Fouqueau, A., Pourchez, J., Leclerc, L., Peyron, A., Montigaud, Y., Verhoeven, P., Macé, T., Bescond, A., Thomas, D., Charvet, A., Ghijselings, M., Hars, P., Polyn, F., Gaie-Levrel, F. (2023). Inter-laboratory Comparison between Particle and Bacterial Filtration Efficiencies of Medical Face Masks in the COVID-19 Context. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 23, 220252.


  • A comparison of PFE and bacteria filtration efficiency (BFE).
  • Good agreement of PFE measurements/disagreement of BFE measurements.
  • Greater scatter of filtration efficiency for media with non-compliant BFE.
  • The use of a bio-aerosol can lead to a risk of loss of bacteria.
  • No filtration velocity, generation volume or time are specified in the EN14683 standard.


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission lead to the recommendation of mask wearing during the pandemic COVID-19. Bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) measurements are used to measure the efficiency of medical face masks in preventing the spread of bioaerosols. Even though these measurements are simple, BFE testing still raise several scientific questions. This paper presents an inter-laboratory comparison between Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE) and Particle Filtration Efficiency (PFE), in order to better understand and establish an overview of both ways for testing surgical masks. Filtration efficiency of six commercial surgical masks have been measured using such experimental methods, i.e., the BFE and the PFE using 3 µm particles initially developed for community face covering testing. The fractional filtration efficiencies have been measured and compared in order to explain the differences. Recommendations for improving associated EN14683:2019+AC standard are also proposed according to the results.

Keywords: Filtration efficiency, Inert aerosol, Biologic aerosol, Medical face masks

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