Fit Testing

Woman wearing N95 mask JPEG

A respiratory fit test tests the seal a respirator’s face piece makes on your face. This test takes 15-20 minutes and should be performed annually.

SCAN1007_001 cwThere are two types of fit tests: qualitative and quantitative. More information about the tests is located online through the Occupational Safety & Health Administration.

Qualitative fit testing is a pass/fail test that uses your taste or smell reaction to an irritant to test leakage into a face piece. This test does not destroy the mask. 

Quantitative fit testing uses a PortaCount machine to measure the actual amount of particulate leakage into the face piece, and does not rely on an individual’s sense of taste, smell or irritation. This test destroys the mask. 

Not everyone can get a good fit with one specific respirator. Upon completing the fit testing, each individual will need to know which make, model, style and size respirator works best with their face. These factors could change due to a variety of conditions:

  • Significant weight gain/loss
  • Major dental work
  • Facial surgery
  • Significant scarring in the area of the seal.

Facial hair such as a beard or mustache likely will affect your respirator’s ability to protect you. Anything that serves as a barrier between your face and a respirator’s seal, or gets into the respirator’s valves, can allow contaminated air to leak into the respirator.

Additional Resources

Fit Testing Pre-Test Requirements

Fit Testing Procedure and Checklist Form

Fit Testing Check Out Form

How to Wear a Respirator Handout

OSHA Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire

Respiratory Protection Program Example from SW Region

Respiratory Protection Program Example from SE Region

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  2. Kalen Ost

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