Mask Fit Testing: Everything You Need To Know
Looking for an N95 that consistently passes quantitative fit testing, look no further. PPE Online has secured an N95 product that is producing high fit factors on our TSI Quantitative Fit Testers. PPE Online and Second Chance CPR utilizes a TSI Portacount to test the Fit Factor of the masks we sell. This product is the first mask that we have found that consistently (141 of 143 tests) passes quantitative fit testing. We are confident that this mask will produce higher fit testing results than any other masks available on the market today. Take a look at some of the options here.
A note on NIOSH and Fit Testing
NIOSH is the standard setting body that measures the material utilized for N95 respirators. The standard is very specific and materials tested go through many evolutions to prove that the material can filter particulate. NIOSH is very specific that it does not test the fit of a mask to a wearer. Fit testing is the only way to ensure the masks fits a wearer and will provide appropriate protection. Masks that do not seal properly to the face will put workers lives at risk.
Quantitative fit testing is the only recommended test to ensure a mask fits properly. While all masks that possess the NIOSH N95 standard can filter out 95% of particulate, it does not mean they will fit on everyone’s face. Masks need to be fit tested to the wearer. Because not all faces are the same we will use fit testing to ensure the mask fits properly. If a fit test is failed, we will have to try a different mask and re-test until a passing fit factor is achieved. In order for a wearer to know they are protected, we must pick a mask and fit test it using a quantitative fit testing machine.
There are 2 common types of fit tests being used to test masks, quantitative and qualitative.
Quantitative fit testing is the gold standard for ensuring masks fit the wearer properly. All NIOSH approved N95s provide the same filtration quality (material used) but Quantitative fit testing tests how the masks fits the face. Quantitative fit testing takes an air sample from inside and outside of the mask and compares the filtering during evolutions designed to mimic an actual work day. The results are calculated by a computer and produces a fit factor that determines that an N95 properly fits the face and will protect the wearer. Quantitative fit testing is laser precise. The equipment can't be lied to or cheated. The unit is calibrated annually and the equipment is checked daily for accuracy. Quantitative fit testing is also less intrusive than qualitative testing.
Qualitative fit testing uses a hood placed over the workers head and then a solution or chemical is sprayed inside. If the worker can taste the solution then they fail. If the worker does not taste the solution then its considered a pass. The issue is that if the worker has a cold or other respiratory issue, can they actually taste the solution? We can only rely on the fact that the worker can taste the solution, and secondly the person taking the test can give false answers, the tester cannot verify the fit. Testing incorrectly or not getting truthful answers may put workers lives at risk. Covid is also causing us to change the way we share equipment. Using a hood that is shared can lead to cross contamination and without precise sanitation can create an environment to spread the disease.
We have a number of Masks available through PPE Online, take a look at our selection located here and let us know if you have any questions!