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Fit Testing: Respiratory Protection - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Fit Testing: Respiratory Protection

Respirator fit testing performed to determine if an employee can maintain an acceptable respiratory fit and seal.

Fit testing must be done prior to use, whenever a different respirator is worn, and at least annually thereafter (pending).

Fit testing will be administered using an OSHA-accepted qualitative fit test or quantitative fit test protocol.

The employee must be tested with the same make, model, style, and size of respirator that will be used.

On this page:
When to fit test
Factors affecting respirator seal
Qualitative fit test
Quantitative fit test
Fit test forms

When to fit test

  • After subject is medically cleared for respirator use
  • Before the subject wears the respirator in the workplace
  • Facial changes
  • Significant weight change
  • Change of respirator size, make, model
  • Whenever employee reports a problem with fit
    *The OSHA requirement for annual fit testing of respirators in health care settings is currently under review. 

Factors affecting respirator seal

  • Facial hair
  • Facial bone structure
  • Dentures
  • Facial scars
  • Eyeglasses
  • Excessive makeup

>Qualitative fit test:

  • A pass/fail test to assess the adequacy of respirator fit.
  • Relies on the individual's response to the test agent.

No eating, drinking (water is allowed), gum or smoking for 15 minutes prior to test.

Sensitivity test procedure:

  • Subject is placed in hood without respirator
  • Subject should open mouth and extend tongue
  • Subject should breathe through mouth
  • Apply 10 bulb squeezes of testing solution into the hood
  • DO NOT spray testing solution into the subject’s face
  • If subject does not taste fit test solution in 10 squeezes, apply another 10 squeezes
  • If subject can’t taste solution by 30 squeezes, use another fit testing solution

Testing solutions:

  • Denatonium benzoate (Bitrex)
  • Saccharin


Quantitative fit test

  • An assessment of the adequacy of respirator fit by numerically measuring the amount of leakage into the respirator.

Test procedure:

  • Subject should wear respirator for 5 minutes prior to test
  • Subject is placed into fit testing hood
  • Apply same number of squeezes as in sensitivity test
  • Every 30 seconds, introduce additional fit testing solution equal to one-half the number of sensitivity test squeezes


  • Normal breathing
  • Deep breathing
  • Moving head side to side – breathe in at far extreme
  • Moving head up and down – breathe in at far extreme
  • Speaking – read Rainbow Passage out loud
  • Touching toes/jog in place
  • Normal breathing

TSI PortaCount:

  • Compares concentration of dust particles outside respirator to concentration of particles in respirator

Respirator seal

  • Respirators with tight-fitting facepieces must not be worn by employees who have facial hair or any condition that interferes with the face-to-facepiece seal
  • Corrective glasses or goggles or other PPE must be worn in a manner that does not interfere with the face-to-facepiece seal
  • Employees wearing tight-fitting respirators must perform a user seal check each time they put on the respirator using the procedures in Appendix B-1 or equally effective manufacturer’s procedures

Respirator seal requirements:

  • Facial hair, jewelry, and glasses must not come into contact with the respirator seal.

User seal check

  • An action conducted by the respirator user to determine if the respirator is properly seated to the face

  • User Seal Check Procedures (Mandatory)
    Appendix B-1 to Respiratory Protection Standard; facepiece positive and/or negative pressure checks, manufacturer's recommended user seal check procedures.

Fit test forms

Step 7: Maintenance Program

see also>> Fit Testing: Public Health Respiratory Protection Program Template

Updated Monday, 24-Oct-2022 10:15:46 CDT