The qualitative fit testing method is the most widely used method for respirator fit testing
When qualitative fit testing negative pressure respirators, a variety of testing agents can be used The most common types are isoamyl acetate (commonly referred to as banana oil because of its fruit-like aroma), saccharin (a sweet-tasting agent), irritant smoke (stannic chloride) and Denatonium Benzoate (also known as Bitrex). Bitrex leaves a very bitter taste in the mouth of fit test subjects whose masks do not fit properly.
Prior to selecting a respirator, employees are shown how to put on a respirator, how to position it on the face, how to adjust the strap tension, and how to determine an acceptable fit. The employee then picks the most acceptable respirator from a sufficient number of samples and wears it at least five minutes to assess the comfort (chin properly placed, adequate strap tension, fits across the nose bridge, spans the distance from the nose to chin and does not have a tendency to slip). Positive pressure and negative pressure seal checks are then performed.
Positive pressure seal check:
Negative pressure seal check:
Before beginning the qualitative fit testing protocol, employees are given a description of the fit test and their responsibilities during the procedure. Excercises that the test subject performs include:
Each test excercise is performed for one minute.Qualitative fit testing
- Test subjects may not eat, drink (except plain water), smoke, or chew gum for 15 minutes before the test.
- The fit test uses the same enclosure as used for the taste threshold screening.
- Test subjects don the enclosure while wearing the selected respirator.
- The respirator must be properly adjusted and equipped with a particulate filter(s).
Even though qualitative fit testing can be used to fit test both half-mask and full-face respirators, it is important to note that you are only verifying a 10X assigned protection factor (APF) on both half-mask and full-face respirators.
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