Frequently Asked Questions about N95 Respirators
Since there are a several different kinds of respirators, choosing the one you need can be confusing. Here are some FAQs to help you learn about N95 respirators, an air-filtering facepiece respirator.
What is a disposable respirator?
A disposable respirator is a personal protective device that is worn on the face, covers at least the nose and mouth, and is used to reduce your risk of inhaling hazardous airborne particles. They work by removing particles from the inhaled airstream of the wearer. Disposable respirators are discarded when they’re no longer usable because of hygiene, excessive resistance, or physical damage. They’re often referred to as “N95s” because of their ability to filter at least 95% of airborne particles.
Do N95 respirators come in different sizes?
Yes. The sizing differs based on the model of the respirator.
How do I know what size I need?
Fit testing is required to determine if a particular model and size of respirator will provide the proper fit. Fit testing is model-specific, so you must be fit tested for each respirator model you’ll be using.
What is a fit test?
A fit test determines whether a respirator fits you correctly and is acceptable. Fit testing uses a test agent that can either be detected by your sense of taste or smell, or measured by an instrument to verify the fit.
Is fit testing required by OHSA?
Yes. OSHA 29 CFR 1910.134 requires a respirator fit test be performed to confirm that the fit of any respirator forms a tight seal on your face before it’s used in the workplace. Records must also be kept.
Why is fit testing necessary for disposable respirators?
Fit testing is necessary to ensure you’re receiving the proper level of protection against the contaminant you’re working with or around. Please note that fit testing is also required after any physical changes, including weight or dental work.
Are there different types of fit testing?
Yes. Qualitative fit testing is a pass/fail test that relies on your sensory detection of the test agent. Quantitative fit testing numerically measures the effectiveness of the respirator to seal with your face. It does not rely on your voluntary or involuntary response to the test agent.
Are medical evaluations necessary for disposable respirators?
Yes. OSHA requires that a medical evaluation be performed for workers who will be wearing respirators. The evaluation will determine your ability to use a respirator. It’s required before you’re fit tested. It’s mandatory that the evaluation be performed by a physician or other licensed healthcare professional (PLHCP) who provides a written recommendation regarding your ability to use respirators. The medical evaluation is usually performed annually.