Irwin's Safety Blog

The Irwin's Fit Test Advantage

May 15, 2020

What is a Fit Test?

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There are two methods of performing respiratory fit testing:

1. Qualitative:

A qualitative fit test is a pass/fail test that relies on the employee's response to a test agent (saccharin, isoamyl acetate, bitrex and irritant smoke, etc.)

2. Quantitative:

A quantitative fit test measures the adequacy of a respirator's fit by numerically measuring the amount of leakage into the respirator (Using a PortaCount, CNC or CNP test device). We at Irwin's Safety highly recommend this method to provide the best possible protection. 


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Quantitative Fit Test Overview

Quantitative fit tests involve the use of specialized equipment that measures the amount of ambient air leaking into a mask. This test is not subjective and does not rely on the subject's ability to taste a test agent, as you would have to with a qualitative test. 

More Importantly, a recent study published by the Journal of Applied Occupational & Environmental Hygiene produced results showing up to 33% of subjects were unable to detect a qualitative testing agent while wearing masks showing to have leaks.


How Often Do You Need To Perform Fit Testing?

In BC you are required to have a fit test done before initial use of a respirator, and then at least ONCE a year. Alberta requires a new fit test every two years. NOTE: if there is any change in the person's physical condition that could affect the respiratory fit, a new fit test is required. 

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Models and Brands of Respirators

Different brands of respirators (3m, North, Scott) in addition to EVERY MODEL OF N95 masks must have an individual fit test completed. For example, if you normally use a 3m 8210 N95 Mask that you've been fit tested for, but your employer buys a box of 3m Aura 1870 N95 Masks for you to use, you will have to get another fit test using the new mask to ensure it can properly fit your face and create a seal. 

To find out which respirator is right for you and how to maintain and care for it, take our free Respirator Course:

BC Program:

  1. Click Here
  2. Create your account
  3. Get educated!

AB Program:

  1. Click Here
  2. Create your account
  3. Get educated!

Find a Location Near You or Call Us Today to get your fit test. 



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