Total inward leakage measurement of particulates for N95 filtering facepiece respirators--a comparison study.Ann Occup Hyg. 2014 Mar; 58(2):206-16.AO
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) certified particulate respirators need to be properly fit tested before use to ensure workers' respiratory protection. However, the effectiveness of American National Standards Institute-/Occupational Safety and Health Administration (ANSI-/OSHA)-accepted fit tests for particulate respirators in predicting actual workplace protection provided to workers is lacking. NIOSH addressed this issue by evaluating the fit of half-mask particulate filtering respirators as a component of a program designed to add total inward leakage (TIL) requirements for all respirators to Title 42 Code of Federal Regulations Part 84. Specifically, NIOSH undertook a validation study to evaluate the reproducibility of the TIL test procedure between two laboratories. A PortaCount® was used to measure the TIL of five N95 model filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) on test subjects in two different laboratories. Concurrently, filter efficiency for four of the five N95 FFR models was measured using laboratory aerosol as well as polydisperse NaCl aerosol employed for NIOSH particulate respirator certification. Results showed that two N95 models passed the TIL tests at a rate of ~80-85% and ~86-94% in the two laboratories, respectively. However, the TIL passing rate for the other three N95 models was 0-5.7% in both laboratories combined. Good agreement (≥83%) of the TIL data between the two laboratories was obtained. The three models that had relatively lower filter efficiency for laboratory aerosol as well as for NaCl aerosol showed relatively low TIL passing rates in both laboratories. Of the four models tested for penetration, one model with relatively higher efficiency showed a higher passing rate for TIL tests in both laboratories indicating that filter efficiency might influence TIL. Further studies are needed to better understand the implications of the data in the workplace.