Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) on Wednesday approved an additional standard seeking to enhance the quality and safety of face masks produced locally.
Kebs Managing Director Bernard Njiraini said the Kenya Standard - KS 2924:2020, Personal Protective Equipment - Face Masks - Masks for public use - Requirements and Test Methods, prescribes minimum performance requirements for any material used to make face masks to allow producers to innovatively use materials for quality mass production.
"The additional standard outlines the minimum performance requirements of masks such as breathability, filtration efficiency, hydrophilicity and hydrophobic characteristics," said Njiraini.
"The standard further recommends material for use in constructing face masks for general use without stifling innovation.
"The standard is based on experiences gained from the Kenya Publicly Available Specification (KPAS), Reusable cloth mask -- Specification KPAS 2917: 2020 first edition, World Health Organisation (WHO) requirements as well as the latest research." added
It is expected that the new standard will spur innovation and facilitate manufacturers, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and individuals with the requisite knowledge of how to make face masks to ramp up production to meet the surging demand for face masks.
In July, Kebs delisted three companies manufacturing masks for poor quality products.
The bureau ordered WAMNDAS manufactured by Wandas General Supplies, ARAX manufactured by Arax Mills and a brandless mask manufactured by Hela Intimates EPZ to discontinue manufacturing and recall its products from the market.
Kebs said it conducted a countrywide surveillance on surgical face masks and established that some unscrupulous manufacturers and economic operators were dealing in substandard products.
"The use of substandard medical face masks, or even misuse of the masks, is highly risky because it gives a false sense of protection thereby increasing the risk of exposure," Kebs added.
In Kenya, it is illegal to manufacture and sell any product that has not been certified by Kebs as provided for under the Standards Act Cap 496, Laws of Kenya.