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Qualitative Respirator Fit Test


A respirator cannot provide protection if it does not fit the user’s face. If the respirator does not fit properly, contaminated air can leak in and the user could breathe in hazardous substances.

A “fit test” tests the seal between the respirator's facepiece and the user. After passing a fit test with a respirator, the user must use the exact same model and size for his/herwork.

Qualitative fit testing is a subjective response (pass/fail test method) that depends on the user’s response to the taste or smell, or reaction to an irritant in order to detect leakage into the masks. Our qualitative respirator fit test involves spraying Bitrex, which leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, at the user wearing the respirator under a hood, acting as a small test chamber. If the user can taste the test agent, the respirator fails the test and another respirator must be tested.

Facial hair, like a beard or mustache, may interfere the seal of the respirator, allowing contaminated air to leak into the respirator facepiece. User must be fit tested before he/she uses a respirator in the workplace, and must be retested at least every 12 months to make sure that the respirator he/she uses still fits.

A fit test should not be confused with a user seal check. A user seal check is a quick check performed by the wearer each time the user puts on the respirator, to determine if the respirator is properly seated to the face or needs to be readjusted.