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Association of body mass index with facial dimensions for defining respiratory fit panels.

Roberge-R; Zhuang-Z; Stein-L
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 13-16, 2006, Chicago, Illinois. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2006 May; :10
The current epidemic of overweight and obesity in the U.S. and other developed nations has reached epidemic proportions, but little work has been done addressing the impact of increasing body weight upon personal protective equipment (PPE). Utilizing the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) respirator fit test panel, this study was undertaken to investigate any possible effect of overweight or obese states on facial dimensions, and to compare prior anthropometric surveys for the purpose of analyzing study population differences that might affect facial dimensions. The data base consisted of three previously published anthropometric studies (two military, one civilian) that were analyzed for homogeneity of study populations and for the impact of variables thought to influence facial dimensions (i.e., age, gender, race/ethnicity, body mass index). The mean age, BMI, and face width were greater for the civilian survey subjects than either of the military surveys (p < .01 for each variable). Face width and face length were associated with BMI in both genders of civilian subjects (p < .01), as was the interaction of race/ethnicity, age, and BMI for civilian females (p = 0.04) and the interaction of race/ethnicity and BMI for civilian males (p = 0.02). Increasing BMI impacted face width more than face length (p < .05). As the epidemic of overweight and obesity continues, associated increases in facial dimensions of the civilian work force should be anticipated and considered by respirator stakeholders. Researchers developing respirator fit test panels should evaluate BMI, as it may offer a clue to increasing facial dimensions. Further research will be required to determine how much increase in body weight signals the need for repeat respirator fit testing and to ascertain if fit test data from more physically fit subjects are applicable to overweight or obese subjects.
Respirators; Respiration; Respiratory-equipment; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Personal-protective-equipment; Protective-equipment; Anthropometry; Demographic-characteristics; Age-factors; Sex-factors; Racial-factors
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NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Research Tools and Approaches: Control Technology and Personal Protective Equipment
Source Name
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 13-16, 2006, Chicago, Illinois
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division