How to Fit Test Your Respirator

Fit testing is a method of ensuring that a certain respirator model and size fits an
employee so that it provides adequate protection from contaminants. There are
two different types of fit tests – Quantitative and Qualitative.
Qualitative fit tests are less expensive and more common than quantitive. They are also less accurate. Qualitative fit testing relies on the employee's ability to taste or smell the test agent.
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Performing a
Qualitative Fit Test
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If your employees have facial hair, facial deformities or are missing dentures,
they may be unable to pass a fit test. These employees can wear a powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) because it does not require a tight seal around
the face. These respirators have a loose-fitting hood or helmet and
push air through the filters via a motor.
Quantitative fit tests are less subjective because they use a machine to measure the test agent's concentration inside compared to outside the respirator to check the amount of leakage. If the employee is exposed to greater than 10 times OSHA's permissible exposure limit (PEL), then a quantitative fit test must be performed. Quantitative fit tests are not used as often as qualitative.
Note: Half-mask respirators should never be used when air contaminant concentrations could be more than 10 times the PEL. Full-face respirators can be used in concentrations up to 50 times the PEL. If above 10 times the PEL, the full-face respirator must be quantitatively fit tested.
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Additional Resources:
How to Select a Respirator
Types of Respirators and Cartridges