Researchers, firms to benefit from medical textile testing center

MANILA – Aside from personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturers and suppliers, researchers and the private sector are also welcomed to use the PTRI Medical Textile Testing Center (PMTTC), which is expected to be fully operational by April.

The PMTTC can also be used by regulatory bodies like the Food and Drugs Administration, according to Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI) Director Celia Elumba.

While she did not provide specific figures, Elumba said testing fees to be charged in PMTTC are cheaper.

"These have been computed to be more than half the price of what it would cost to have the tests conducted by foreign laboratories. Plus, the shipping fees are reduced greatly," she told the Philippine News Agency on Tuesday.

Elumba added that the test timeline was also reduced, from 4-6 weeks to 2-3 weeks.

Testing services will be for face masks, coveralls, gowns, and drapes. Elumba noted that prior to the establishment of PMTTC, tests for medical safety regulations have to be sent to foreign laboratories.

Soft-launched last December 28, the PMTTC in Bicutan, Taguig seeks to elevate medical devices regulation through the conduct of pre-market evaluation of materials and products, as well as post-market surveillance activities.

"The establishment of local testing capability will likewise encourage research and development initiatives that transcend the current pandemic response," Elumba said.

PTRI's testing laboratory used to cater only to some tests for non-medical cloth face masks and for reusable non-medical grade PPE.

"Different levels of PPE are defined depending on the activities, level of exposure, and corresponding barrier performance required. With the completion of the project, the testing laboratory will be able to test up to American Society for Testing and Materials or ASTM Level 3 protective clothing such as gowns and coveralls for areas where there is high risk of fluid exposure," Elumba said.

Among the equipment in PMTTC are the protective clothing synthetic blood penetration tester, and a hydrostatic pressure tester.

A protective clothing synthetic blood penetration tester is used to determine the resistance to penetration of protective clothing by synthetic blood or other body fluids under different pressures at a constant rate.

On the other hand, the hydrostatic pressure tester is used to test the water penetration resistance of medical PPE from underneath the material specimen through varying water pressures. A medical PPE prevents the transfer of infectious microorganisms from one individual to another.

Other equipment includes a respirator fit tester, water repellency tester, impact penetration tester, and differential pressure tester. (PNA)

Science & Techology

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