The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has urged the public against bogus and potentially harmfully personal protective equipment (PPE).
The Bureau said it has uncovered that numerous PPEs were being sold as ‘SABS Approved’.
“Consumers are being duped into using potentially harmful PPE,” said SABS Lead Administrator Jodi Scholtz in a statement.
Urging the public to be vigilant and to buy quality products through legitimate delivery channels, Scholtz said while the public is desperate to purchase the products, it is important that these are legitimate.
The products in demand and under scrutiny include masks, thermometers, sanitisers, disinfectants, gloves, and other equipment in order to protect themselves and their families against COVID-19.
“Products, even those that are SABS Approved need to be used for the intended purpose in order to be effective in the fight against the infection. SABS understands that there are increasingly new innovations that are emerging that claim to solve the myriad of health issues that the world is facing and while they could be life-saving, all innovative products must be subjected to testing to ensure that it is safe to use,” said Scholtz.
Scholtz said SABS has not conducted any tests or developed any national standard (SANS) for spray booths/tunnels nor any of the mechanisms used to spray disinfectants.
“There are currently no chemicals that are considered safe for use for disinfection via spray booths or tunnels,” she said.
She warned that uncertified products and products that are not used for their intended purpose could be dangerous for a number of reasons. These include adverse reactions to humans and the environment, the harmful effects of unidentified ingredients, bacterial and microbial impurities as well as simply just not being suitable for use on humans.
SABS currently does not conduct any temperature tests on thermometers that are intended for use on humans. This falls within the ambit of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA). The calibration of thermometers can be done in laboratories that have been calibrated by the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) and SABS currently does not offer this service.
She said there are various categories of masks and shields that can be used in the fight against COVID-19. Currently all manufacturers of surgical masks are registered with SAHPRA. There are six national standards that provide masks for various uses.
SABS is able to conduct tests against some of these SANS and where there is limited capacity, utilises laboratories that fall within its partnership agreements.
“Testing and certification of products, especially PPE is going to become increasingly important as South Africa deals with COVID-19.”
The SABS said it has the capability to develop South African National Standards (SANS) for products as well as offer testing and certification of products against those standards.
“In addition and based on the critical needs, tests can be conducted against specific requirements and via a consultative process to develop the requirements,” explains Scholtz.
The SABS advised companies procuring PPE to consult the Bureau on the standard and requirements that PPE should meet so that it can be included on tender documents and subjected to inspection.
“This will ensure that the products received are functional and meet the requirements for protecting South Africans. SABS also offers consignment inspection services to guard against defective product being delivered and to ensure that there is an independent voice verifying the PPE being procured,” the Bureau said.