Author Topic: Respirator fit testing  (Read 3109 times)


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Respirator fit testing
« on: April 29, 2009, 07:34:05 PM »
With many folks going out to purchase respirators, I do not know if many realize how ineffective a respirator can be if not properly fit-tested.  Below is an article I wrote, but never published, in 2007 for a group of local safety professionals .
I think some of this has application to those of us who are designated public safety workers, medical workers, as well as those who may have to provide direct care for an infectious friend or family member.  You do not want to just grab a respirator off the shelf and be led into a false sense of security that it will protect you.  I will say that "something is sometimes better than nothing" when it comes to respirators, but for those of us who expect to be in direct contact with infectious people, read on.  It may provide some boring details, but also help you understand why this is necessary.

If you want to have a fit-test performed with your chosen N-95, you should try to contact a local safety professional or Occupational Medicine clinic and ask for information. 

Edited by P_Coltrane for DMCA compliance

« Last Edit: April 30, 2013, 11:29:53 PM by Archer »

Offline 19kilo

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Re: Respirator fit testing
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2009, 07:37:49 PM »
Very good article. I fit most of the nurses when they start here.

Are you a RT?


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Re: Respirator fit testing
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2009, 07:46:55 PM »
No I am an Occupational Medicine/Emergency Medicine PA now working in a city Urgent Care.  Before that I used to work in the Army, and later for the oil and chemical industry where we handled some nasty stuff.  Based upon my background, I take this issue very seriously.  Glad to hear you folks fit-test, very few do here in the southwest.

« Last Edit: April 30, 2013, 11:29:56 PM by Archer »

Offline ColdHaven

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Re: Respirator fit testing
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2009, 08:21:08 PM »
I have been fitted with our N95 masks our hospital uses. It is mandatory for anyone with direct patient contact to be fitted with one. It is required of people with direct contact with patients for a reason. Unlike SARs which is airborne, the flu is droplet, and a mask is most effective with droplet when in direct contact with someone.

Offline Heavy G

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Re: Respirator fit testing
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2009, 08:39:19 PM »
Thanks, scrubs.  It's posts like this that really help people out.  Welcome to the forum.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2013, 01:05:53 AM by Archer »

Dirttime Dude

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Re: Respirator fit testing
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2009, 05:46:51 PM »

 Great info

 As folks who are into preps, all of these things should be in your "stuff"
 While guns and the like are sexy, the meds will save your life more times than a weapon will, most of the time.

 The meds should always be checked out. "Sanitize" stuff should be a major part of your stuff.
 Bleach by the way deteriorates really fast and loses its effectivness in a few months. Like within 4 to 6 for sure.




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Re: Respirator fit testing
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2009, 11:00:57 PM »
Good point Dirttime Dude!  For those of us with re-usable elastomer half-mask respirator and full-face respirator, sanitizing these masks on a regular basis is key to keeping them healthy to use.  If I would wear a half mask for a 12-hour shift of providing direct care to sick people, I would (remove the filters first) wash it in a soapy solution with a small soft brush, followed by a dip in a bleach solution, pause for 20-30 min, then a warm water rinse and allowed to air dry.  Check with your respirator manufacturer to find out the best way to clean your gear without destroying it.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2013, 11:30:25 PM by Archer »


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Re: Respirator fit testing
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2009, 08:25:49 AM »
I too fit tested the N-95 as required by OSHA for TB prevention in health care workers.

Fit testing, properly done, is effective at the moment of fit testing.

The fit of the mask depends on the person who wears it.  The wearer is responsible for properly donning the mask, for observing for excessive moisture, etc.

I had to wear one of those N-95 for a period of time, and I will tell you that, even properly fitted, they become uncomfortable and people tend to want to adjust them by repositioning them frequently.  Doing so will expose them to the danger they trying to avoid. 

Also, males need to be aware that facial hair prevents a good seal of the mask.

Good luck wearing them.

Offline LGM30

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Re: Respirator fit testing
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2009, 07:47:33 PM »
This is completely anecdotal, but I post for your consideration...Use at your own risk...
I have sleep apnea and use a CPAP.  You can google it if you want to know more.  It requires me to wear a mask when I sleep.  To keep the mask clean I need to clean it with vinegar weekly at a minimum.  I was told that the vinegar creates an acidic environment that most viri an bacteria can not thrive in and will die off.  The vinegar does not degrade the plastic and silicon mask the way bleach will.

An added bonus of this as a cleaner is that you could easily ferment your own, but I would sterilize by boiling and re condensing prior to using as an antiseptic cleaner.  Think I'm going to need to do some research on that...