Respirator Fit Testing: Frequently Asked Questions

Respirator Fit Testing: Frequently Asked Questions

Pinnacle PPE is a 3M supplier and that recommend respirator fit testing is a required component of any respiratory protection program in which workers are required to wear tight-fitting respirators. Qualitative fit testingis an acceptable method in many cases. This blog contains answers to questions that many 3M customers ask.

Q: How many fit tests can be conducted with one 3M qualitative fit test kit?

Approximately 150 fit tests can be conducted before you need to re-order fit test kit solutions.  Note, however: the number of people you can fit test with one set of bottles varies depending on how many people you fit test in each session andwhat their sensitivity thresholds are(10, 20, or30). When you first fill the nebulizers, you should use1 tspof solution. You might only need to fill the sensitivity nebulizer once per fit test session. If you fit test more than 20 people in each fit test session, you will need to fill your fit test nebulizer multiple times and will run out of fit test solution earlier than you run out of sensitivity solution. The nebulizers should be emptied, rinsed, and refilled at least once every 4 hours.

Q: Can we fit test non-3M respirators witha 3M fit test kit?

Yes, you can use 3M fit test kits to fit testnon- 3M respirators. The qualitative fit test protocol is specified by OSHA.  3M’s fit test kit components meet the requirements ofthat standard. Therefore, it can be used to fit test any NIOSH- approved tight-fitting facepiece. You can also usenon-3M fit test kits to fit test 3M respirators, as long as these fit test kits meet the specifications in OSHA’s fit test standard.

Q: What is inthe fit test kit solutions?

All 3M qualitative fit test solutions are prepared according to OSHA, which specifies the solutes and concentrations that are required for compliance. The sweet solutionsin the FT-10 and FT-20 kits contain sodium accharin. Sodium saccharin is commonly used as an artificial sweetener in many commercially available beverages and foods. The bitter solutions in the FT-30 kit contain denatonium benzoate, which is often marketed under the brand name BitrexTM. Denatonium benzoate is used as a taste aversion agent to prevent children from ingesting certain household products.

Q: Do the fit test and sensitivity solutions expire?

There is no published shelf life for the solutions. Any solution left in the nebulizers at the end of your fit test session should not be poured back into the bottles but rather should be discarded to avoid contamination of the solution remaining in the bottle.
Q: There is a white powdery solid around the cap of the solution. Should I be concerned?
White crystals will form around the cap if it is not sealed tightly to the bottle. This is true for both the sweet solutions and the bitter solutions. It occurs because the solutions are very concentrated, and if drops of the solutions leak out of loose lids, the water evaporates, leaving crystals of the sweet or bittersolute. It is not cause for concern and can simply be wiped away for appearance and convenience.
Q: How can you help subjects remove the bitter taste from theirmouths after the fit test?
The taste of denatonium benzoate can be countered with chocolate. Many fit testers offer chocolate to subjects, but this should be done only after the entire fit test protocol is complete.
Q: There are solids at the bottom of the bottle of sweet solution. Should I be concerned?

The fit test solution is a highly saturated solution per the concentration specified in OSHA. Saccharin Solution Aerosol Protocol. TheFT- 12 may crystallize under certain storage conditions, such as if the temperature is lowered. Per the instructions included with the 3M FT-10 Qualitative Fit Test Apparatus, if crystals are present, hold the closed bottle under a warm stream of water and shake vigorously to dissolve back into solution.

Q: During the sensitivity test, no subjects are able to taste thesweet solution. What should I do?

Check to make sure your nebulizers are generating aerosol when squeezed. Hold them against a solid dark background so you can see if a cloud of aerosol appears when you squeeze the nebulizer. If no white aerosol cloud appears, perform the following steps:
  1. Make sure both white plugs are removed from the nebulizer openings.
  2. Make sure the question-mark-shaped insert is present in the nebulizer reservoir and is pushed down as far as possible on the stem.
  3. Verify that the black O-ringis present in the reservoir.
  4. The sweet solutions can crystallize on certain parts of the nebulizer, causing it to not function properly. Even if you wash your nebulizers frequently, crystals can remain in the two narrow tubes in the nebulizer. Your fit test kit came with a curl of small-gauge wire that should be used to ensure those narrow tubes are clear of crystals.

Q: How should I cleanmy fit test kit components?

Nebulizers should be rinsed in fresh water after every session or at least every four hours, or if the nebulizer becomes clogged. If you use the sweet solutions, we recommend periodically using the curl of small-gauge wire that came with your fit test kit to remove any crystals that might have formed in the two narrow passage ways. Always discard any unused solution.

Q: Should I worry about the oxygen levels inside the hood during the fit test?

Oxygen deficiency immediately dangerous to life or health is defined as oxygen content below 19.5% at sea level. We have performed a limited amount of testing on the oxygen levels inside the fit test hood. It is not abnormal to see the oxygen level in the hood temporarily decrease during the exhalation phase of breathing.  However, based on our experience, the oxygen levels during the inhalation phase do not pose any significant threat to healthy individuals.

 Q: How should I clean the hoods and collars?

After each session, the hood and collar should be wiped with a damp cloth or paper towel to remove any deposited fit test solution.

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