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Fitting characteristics of eighteen N95 filtering-facepiece respirators.

Coffey CC; Lawrence RB; Campbell DL; Zhuang Z; Calvert CA; Jensen PA
J Occup Environ Hyg 2004 Apr; 1(4):262-271
Four performance measures were used to evaluate the fitting characteristics of 18 models of N95 filtering-facepiece respirators: (1) the 5th percentile simulated workplace protection factor (SWPF) value, (2) the shift average SWPF value, (3) the h-value, and (4) the assignment error. The effect of fit-testing on the level of protection provided by the respirators was also evaluated. The respirators were tested on a panel of 25 subjects with various face sizes. Simulated workplace protection factor values, determined from six total penetration (face-seal leakage plus filter penetration) tests with re-donning between each test, were used to indicate respirator performance. Five fit-tests were used: Bitrex, saccharin, generated aerosol corrected for filter penetration, PortaCount. Plus corrected for filter penetration, and the PortaCount Plus with the N95-Companion accessory. Without fit-testing, the 5th percentile SWPF for all models combined was 2.9 with individual model values ranging from 1.3 to 48.0. Passing a fit-test generally resulted in an increase in protection. In addition, the h-value of each respirator was computed. The h-value has been determined to be the population fraction of individuals who will obtain an adequate level of protection (i.e., SWPF =10, which is the expected level of protection for half-facepiece respirators) when a respirator is selected and donned (including a user seal check) in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions without fit-testing. The h-value for all models combined was 0.74 (i.e., 74% of all donnings resulted in an adequate level of protection), with individual model h-values ranging from 0.31 to 0.99. Only three models had h-values above 0.95. Higher SWPF values were achieved by excluding SWPF values determined for test subject/respirator combinations that failed a fit-test. The improvement was greatest for respirator models with lower h-values. Using the concepts of shift average and assignment error to measure respirator performance yielded similar results. The highest level of protection was provided by passing a fit-test with a respirator having good fitting characteristics.
Respirators; Face-masks; Personal-protective-equipment; Respiratory-equipment; Models; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Respiratory-protection; Protective-equipment; Author Keywords: filtering-facepiece; fit-test; respirator; simulated workplace protection factor
Christopher C. Coffey, Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NIOSH, Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, 1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, WV 26505
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Research Tools and Approaches: Control Technology and Personal Protective Equipment
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Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Page last reviewed: August 1, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division