What Really is a Quantitative Respirator Fit Test?

Quantitative Fit Testing – A Introduction


Quantitative Tests

Quantitative fit testing uses a machine to measure the actual amount of leakage into the facepiece and does not rely upon your sense of taste, smell, or irritation in order to detect leakage. The respirators used during this type of fit testing will have a probe attached to the facepiece that will be connected to the machine by a hose. There are three quantitative fit test methods accepted by OSHA:

  • Generated aerosol;
  • Ambient aerosol, and;
  • Controlled Negative Pressure.

The PortaCount Respirator Fit Tester can quantitatively fit test all types of respirators / gas masks, SCBAs, respirators, even N95, P1 and P2 disposable (filtering-facepiece) respirators.


Why Fit Test

There are two primary reasons for respirator fit testing:

  • Verification of Training. After the individual has received respirator training, a fit test checks that the person has learned how to properly put on and wear a respirator without assistance.
  • Sizing. It is important to make sure that the individual is issued a properly sized respirator that is capable of providing protection when worn properly.


Worker Considerations

Quantitative fit testing can be used for any type of tight-fitting respirator.

However, many workers need to wear prescription glasses or personal protective equipment, such as safety goggles or earmuffs, while performing a job. If the people you test fall into this category, then they must wear these items during the fit test to be sure they don’t interfere with the respirator’s fit.

Employees must be fit tested before using a respirator in the workplace, and often must be re-tested at least every 12 months to make sure that the respirator used still fits (review applicable regulations to confirm what is needed for the program). Respirators must be fit tested with the specific make, model, style, and size of respirator that will be used.

Not everyone can get a good fit with one specific respirator. If the respirator fails the fit test, then another make, model, style, or size must be tried until one is found that fits the person properly. When the fit testing process is completed, it’s very important to let the person know which make, model, style,
and size respirator fits properly, and when they should wear it for protection.

Also, the fit of the respirator must be retested whenever there is a change in a person’s physical condition that could affect the respirator fit. Such changes could include:

  • large weight gain or loss;
  • major dental work (such as new dentures);
  • facial surgery that may have changed the shape of their face, or;
  • significant scarring in the area of the seal.

Any of these changes could affect the ability of the respirator to properly seal to the face, which could allow contaminated air to leak into the respirator facepiece. If the fit of the respirator becomes unacceptable, select a different type of respirator and be re-tested. The selection may include a new make, model, style, or size of respirator.


No Beards!

Facial hair, like a beard or mustache, can affect a respirator’s ability to protect. Anything that comes between the face and the respirator’s seal or gets into the respirator’s valves can allow contaminated air to leak into the respirator facepiece and will not result in appropriate protection.

Quantitative Fit Testing Applications

  • Quantitative respirator fit testing (QNFT)
  • Disposable filtering-facepiece fit testing for Series 100/99/95/P1/P2/P3/ HEPA masks
  • Half-mask fit testing
  • Full-face fit testing
  • Gas mask fit testing
  • PAPR fit testing
  • SCBA fit testing

Learn more about the Respirator Fit Testing Course 

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