Even though OSHA first accepted quantitative respirator fit testing (QNFT) methods in the 1980s, only a few companies have produced fit testing instruments that use those methods. Products like AccuTec’s AccuFIT 9000 and TSI’s Portacount are among the only ones on the market today for use by employers in their Respiratory Protection Program.
What is Quantitative Respirator Fit Testing?
Both quantitative and qualitative respirator fit testing are methods used to test how well a respirator mask fits. Respirator fit testing is required where ambient conditions mandate the use of respiratory protection (i.e., the use of respirators) to ensure the wearer’s safety. Those include fields like:
- Remediation Companies
- First Responders (Fire)
- Oil & Gas
- Other Industrial Users
OSHA provides standard protocols for respirator fit testing to ensure the safety of those workers.
Quantitative respirator fit testing is the most accurate, reliable, and verifiable fit testing method available. Because quantitative fit testing methods measure the leakage around a respirator mask when it is in use, they result in a data-driven “Fit Factor” produced by an objective, defensible metric.
Is Quantitative Fit Testing Better than Qualitative Fit Testing?
While quantitative fit testing uses defensible data to prove the effectiveness of a respirator’s seal, qualitative methods do not. Qualitative fit tests ask the subject of a test to sense a challenge agent by smell or taste and rely solely on the test subject’s reporting to determine the effectiveness of a respirator’s fit. That kind of subjectivity is unreliable, often inaccurate, and indefensible.
In short, quantitative fit testing methods are the best options for ensuring the integrity of a respirator and the safety of a mask wearer.
What Quantitative Fit Testing Machines are Out There?
When you are looking for quantitative respirator fit testing equipment, it is important to ensure that the instruments meet the OSHA standards and in the instance of the CNC-based systems, CNC protocols.
There are several companies currently producing Quantitative respirator Fit Test Instruments.
AccutFIT 9000 and 9000 PRO by AccuTec
AccuTec has quickly made itself a leader in the Respirator Fit Testing Market with its flagship products – The AccuFIT 9000 and the AccuFIT 9000 PRO. Both machines offer the latest quantitative fit testing technology and adhere to OSHA’s new Fast CNC protocol.
By choosing the appropriate model and proper respirator-specific Sample Adapter, these fit testers can be used to fit-test any type of respirator including disposable face pieces like the N95 masks. In addition to the OSHA protocols, AccuFIT products are compliant with ANSI, CSA, and HSE protocols as well, making them a globally recognized fit testing solution.
AccuFIT gives you the capacity to operate multiple units from a single computer or to use the instrument as a standalone without the need for PC operation. Perhaps most importantly, while being among the most effective respirator fit testers on the market, the AccuFIT machines are more affordable than their competitors.
Portacount by TSI
The PortaCount™ was one of the first quantitative respirator fit testers on the market. Like the AccuFIT instruments from AccuTec, the Portacount™ can be used to test many types of respirators including gas masks, SCBAs, respirators, and some models can even test the most popular disposable masks on the market.
TSI offers several models of their quantitative fit testing device:
- Portacount™ 8040
- Portacount™ 8048 – Capable of testing N95 , P1, and P2 disposable masks
Quantifit by OHD
Unlike the AccuFIT and PortaCount™ products, Quantifit™ from OHD uses the controlled negative pressure (CNP) method of fit testing. While time efficient when used by a skilled operator, technique is extremely important in order to achieve consistent results. With the approval of the Fast CNC protocols by OSHA, the time advantage previously enjoyed by the CNP method is no longer in effect.
This video will tell you more about the differences between CNP and CNC respirator fit testing and which method is right for you.