I & O Medical Centers Blog

Respirator Fit Testing

Published Thursday, March 08, 2018

Many of our clients require their employees to wear respirators for work. Due this high demand, our clinics are no strangers to respirator fit testing! No matter the industry your company is in, we can help you stay safe and compliant. What type of testing is done for respirator fit testing?

Qualitative tests use your senses such as taste and smell to generate a reaction if there is a leak in the seal. 

These tests ensure there is no leakage and typically used to test half face respirators. These tests are to be performed yearly. OSHA states that there are four acceptable tests for qualitative fit tests:

  • Isoamyl acetate, which smells like bananas;
  • Saccharin, which leaves a sweet taste in your mouth;
  • Bitrex, which leaves a bitter taste in your mouth;
  • Irritant smoke, which can cause coughing

Quantitative tests check for the amount of leakage from the respirator to the users’ face. 

This test doesn’t target the senses like the qualitative test. Quantitative tests use a machine hooked up to the respirator to measure the actual amount of leakage and typically used for the full-face respirator. These tests are to be performed yearly. OSHA states that there are three acceptable tests for quantitative fit tests:

  • Generated aerosol;
  • Ambient aerosol;
  • Controlled Negative Pressure

One size doesn't fit all.

The most important information to know about respirator fit testing, is that there is no one size fits all respirator when it comes to half face or full-face respirators. Since every employee is different, they may need different size respirators for a proper seal. Our clinics help the employees figure out what respirator is right for them by doing a qualitative and a quantitative test. Prior to coming to our clinics for fit testing:

  • Have several options of respirators to choose from
  • Bring cartridges for the respirator
  • Remove facial hair for proper seal

If you have further questions about respirator fit testing, please contact our client services representatives via phone (757-738- 5961) or email.


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