The Different Types of Respirator Fit Testing Methods Available for Healthcare

Respirator fit testing is an essential process for healthcare workers to ensure their safety while providing healthcare services. It is also crucial for healthcare employers to maintain regulatory compliance. There are different types of respirator fit testing methods available for healthcare workers, ranging from qualitative to quantitative tests. In this blog, we will discuss the different types of respirator fit testing methods available for healthcare workers to help them understand requirements, testing, methods, and advantages of each method.  

What Is Respirator Fit Testing? 

Respirator fit testing is a process to determine whether a respirator fits, and forms a proper seal, to the wearer’s face, providing the expected level of protection against harmful airborne particles. A respirator is a personal protective equipment (PPE) device that healthcare workers use to protect themselves from airborne hazards. A respirator fit test ensures that the respirator is a proper fit for the wearer and does not allow contaminated air to enter through gaps or leaks in the seal. Fit testing is critical to protecting healthcare workers from exposure to hazardous agents, including airborne viruses like COVID-19. 

Qualitative Fit Testing 

Qualitative fit testing is a pass/fail test that uses the user’s sense of taste to determine the fit of the respirator. This method is more commonly used in the healthcare industry, as most workers are required to wear N95s, a half-face respirator. This type of testing uses a test agent, such as a bitter or sweet taste, to determine if the wearer can detect the test agent through the respirator. If the wearer can taste the test agent, it means there is a leak in the fit of the respirator. This indicates the employee would need to be retested on a different make or model respirator until they find one with a proper seal. Qualitative fit testing is relatively simple and does not require any specialized equipment, and is an acceptable testing method for half-face respirators only.  

Quantitative Fit Testing 

Quantitative fit testing uses specialized equipment to measure the actual fit of the respirator. This type of testing uses a machine to measure the amount of air leaking through the respirator, which is expressed as a fit factor. A fit factor of 100 means that the respirator is 100% effective in filtering out airborne particles, and a fit factor of less than 100 means that there is air leaking through the respirator. Quantitative fit testing is more accurate and reliable than qualitative fit testing, but its process is more complicated and requires specialized equipment. Quantitative fit testing can be used on half-face respirators but is required for full-face masks. 

Employers must ensure that their healthcare workers have access to the most suitable respirator fit testing method to protect themselves from harmful airborne particles. At Mobile Health, we offer a wide range of respirator fit testing services to meet the diverse needs of healthcare employers. Contact us today to learn more about our services and ensure that your employees are protected with the right respirator fit testing method. With on-site respirator fit testing, in-clinic respirator fit testing, and our innovative Mobile Health FIT KIT™, there is no better partner for your respirator fit testing needs than the experts at Mobile Health.