CAPPA Researcher Nominated for Standards and Innovation Awards - CAPPA

CAPPA is delighted to announce their researcher Dr Steven Darby has been nominated for the Standards and Innovation Awards 2021. Dr Darby was nominated by NSAI in the individual researcher/innovator award category. The Standards and Innovation Awards acknowledge the important contribution of research and innovation to standardization and celebrate the contributions of researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs to standardization. Nominations for these awards comes from the CEN and CENELEC national members of the 34 European countries. CEN, the European Committee for Standardisation, is an association that brings together the National Standardization bodies of the 34 European Countries. CENELEC, the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization and is responsible for standardization in the electrotechnical engineering field.

The development of a standard on community face coverings in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, for general use by European citizens, is a new category of product. It is inevitable that there are a wide variety of levels of performance on the market including innovate designs. Dr Darby led and facilitated research at the early stages of the standards development process in order to establish the benchmark level of performance that is suitable for the intended use of the product and protection of consumers. The CEN/TS (17553) standard, currently under development, aims to cater for a diverse group of stakeholders including children, older persons and persons with disabilities and is informed by research conducted by Dr Darby since the publication of the community workshop agreement (CWA) with CEN.

Dr Darby led early stage research to support the development of the Irish standards for barrier masks and face coverings to inform performance requirements. Innovate methods of testing were used by Dr Darby and those he collaborated with in University College Dublin (UCD), University Limerick (UL) and National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) during the research. Examples include using imaging systems to test different mask designs, on faces of a wider diversity of faces than often used. Transparent face coverings (to enable lip-reading by hearing impaired citizens) were also included, as this type of mask currently has no standardised test.  Dr Darby also conducted measurements of nose bridge designs to inform the performance requirements for community face coverings, and he helped develop a new test methodology for mask design in determining outward and inward leakage specifications. Dr Darby also worked with other researchers to develop design criteria to take into account the diversity of facial anthropometrics of the human population to inform the sizing requirements of the new standards on community face coverings.

Steven Darby has a PhD in atmospheric chemistry and worked for several years in viral diagnostics. Currently he works in the Centre for Advanced Photonics and Process Analysis, Munster Technological University, where he conducts contract research for industry. He led the technical group in 2020, which informed the NSAI SWiFT-19, and he was nominated to CEN for the development of the CEN/CWA 17553 on community face coverings. He is presently the Chair of NSAI Technical Committee 67 on face coverings that contributes to “Community face coverings.”

You can learn more about the research on barrier masks here and more about the work of CAPPA here.