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

Roberge-R; Zhuang-Z; Stein-L
J Int Soc Respir Prot 2006 Spring; 43(Spring):44-52
The current prevalence 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. Utilizing the newly developed National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory respirator fit panel that was derived from anthropometric data collected from civilian respirator users in a 2003 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health survey, this study was undertaken to investigate any possible effect of overweight or obese states upon facial dimensions, and to compare prior anthropometric surveys for the purpose of analyzing study population differences that might affect facial dimensions. The database 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, body mass index). The mean age, body mass index (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 statistically 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 = 0.03) 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 workforce should be anticipated and considered by respirator stakeholders. Researchers developing respirator fit panels should evaluate BMI, as it is a variable that influences distribution within the panel. Further research is needed to determine quantitative weight changes that signal 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
Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory, 626 Cochrans Mill Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15236
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Journal Article
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NIOSH Division
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Research Tools and Approaches: Control Technology and Personal Protective Equipment
Source Name
Journal of the International Society for Respiratory Protection
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division