Standardization News

The 10 Most Read Features of 2020

SN Online presents its annual list of the most read features of the year.
David Walsh

To say that 2020 was not the best of years would be an understatement. The litany of reasons would be far too long to include here, but suffice it to say, a global pandemic and state- and nation-wide lockdowns did not make for a happy twelve months around the world. 

In spite of it all, the world of standards moved forward. Through effective virtual standards work and the resilient spirit of members and staff, many new impactful and life-saving standards were proposed, developed, or revised. And they made for very compelling reading on SN Online, the digital partner to Standardization News

Maybe not surprisingly, a story on standards for personal protective equipment (PPE) set the all-time record for page views on the site this year, a fact that speaks volumes about the world of 2020.

Other popular topics included cannabis, medical devices, and even the USMCA. Read on to learn which features made the list of the ten most-read stories of the year on

1. Standards for Medical Face Masks and Protective Clothing

In 2020, taking a mask with us wherever we went became an automatic, reflexive behavior – like grabbing keys or a wallet on the way out the door. This feature on ASTM International’s standards for masks, including the now-famed “N95” mask, resulted in a record amount of traffic to SN Online in 2020. Here’s hoping by this time next year, masks are not nearly the hot topic they are today.

2. Green Building with Hempcrete

Were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic, the biggest story of the year in the world of standards may have been cannabis. Not only was this plant legalized in many states and countries, the utility of its byproducts was illustrated as well, with standards such as the ones described here – for a durable new green building material called hempcrete – making big news.

3. The 100-Year Bridge

Infrastructure is always a popular topic, particularly in an election year. So it should come as no surprise that a feature on ASTM’s standards for more durable, longer-lasting building materials for bridges and roads was the third most read feature of 2020. 

4. Modeling the Future of Medical Devices

The world of standards and high-tech innovation always go hand in hand, as cutting-edge technological advances need standards to enter the mainstream marketplace. Such is the case for computational modeling, a technique that promises to revolutionize the field of medical devices by making safer devices that make it to market faster.

5. What the USMCA Means for SDOs

The worlds of economics and politics also frequently intersect the field of standards, as illustrated by the popularity of SN’s coverage of the new USMCA agreement between Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. Signed in January, the agreement’s language surrounding international standards developers has enormous implications for SDOs.

6. The Many Lives of Copper

The recyclable nature of copper makes it a versatile and popular material for construction, plumbing, and more. The metal’s naturally microbial-resistant nature makes it resistant to the coronavirus, which may have had a hand in making this feature on standards for the copper industry the sixth most read of 2020. 

7. The Right Combination

Medical-related topics continued to receive a lot of attention in 2020, with this feature on standards for “combination products” – devices paired with medications such as asthma inhalers and hypodermic needles – receiving the seventh most page views on SN Online. 

8. Q&A with Andrew Kireta Jr.

This interview with popular 2020 ASTM International board chair Andrew Kireta Jr. – an avid super-marathoner in addition to being one of the world’s foremost experts on the copper industry – made for very compelling reading. 

9. COVID-19 Changes the SDO Landscape

The impact of COVID-19 on the standards world went far beyond face masks, touching on real estate, textiles, even product labeling. This feature covering the many areas of the standards world that were affected by the pandemic was the ninth most read feature of the year. 

10. 5 Standards that Support Resilience

Another topic that would have been higher up on this list in a normal year, standards for resilience – particularly those for construction and infrastructure – rounds out the Top 10. Surviving extreme weather has become a major concern for builders and residents alike, and standards will help make more resilient materials and techniques mainstream.