Standardization News

Telling Our Story

By: 
Katharine E. Morgan

At times, many of us have struggled to explain the societal impact of ASTM International to someone unfamiliar with our work or mission. I know it has taken me a few years to perfect that elevator pitch when the opportunity presents itself. 

A few weeks ago, members of the personal protective clothing and equipment committee (F23) completed a new specification for barrier face coverings (F3502). Developed in just seven months, the standard addresses a gap that exists for barrier face coverings that are neither a respirator nor a surgical mask. The standard is intended to apply to masks for the general public and workers and provides minimum design, performance, labeling, and care requirements for reusable face coverings. 

As you can imagine, news of this activity, even while still under development, traveled fast. Our staff was inundated with calls from news outlets around the globe interested in learning more about the work of the committee and the barrier face covering activity. 

Within hours of publication, ASTM International was the focus of articles on major news websites, and the new standard was covered live on broadcast television and on national public radio in the United States. Millions of people learned how members of ASTM International developed a standard that will impact their lives and support consumer confidence in the face coverings they purchase. 

Beyond spotlighting the important work of the committee, the high-profile media attention also provided our staff with a unique opportunity to educate the public — many of whom may not have known what a standard was — about the critical work ASTM members and staff do every day to help our world work better. 

We’ve been able to share ASTM International’s mission and highlight the dozens of industries that we touch and impact every day with our standards, products, and services. We’ve been able to tell our story and explain the value our standards development process brings to the world.

The barrier face covering standard is an exciting example of the great work ASTM International does. It meets a need and shows the importance of what we can do together through our consensus process. But it’s just one example of many throughout our nearly 125-year history. It’s one among the thousands of standards published throughout the years that drive our mission. It’s a shining example of the work we do every day, and the work we’ve continued to do over the past year. 

It’s also an important example of the work we’ll continue to do throughout the year ahead. 

Although our upcoming committee weeks and independent meetings will continue to take place virtually, I know the hard work continues and that the standards-development process does not stop. And now, thanks to members like you, the world does too. 

Katharine E. Morgan
President, ASTM International

Issue Month: 
March/April
Issue Year: 
2021