Published on Thu Aug 06 2020

Performing Qualitative Mask Fit Testing without a Commercial Kit: Fit Testing Which can be Performed at Home and at Work

O'Kelly, E., Arora, A., Pearson, C., Ward, J., Clarkson, P. J.

Qualitative fit testing is a popular method of ensuring the fit of sealing face masks such as N95 and FFP3 masks. Increased demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to shortages in testing equipment. Accessible alternatives to the testing solution have been studied.

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Abstract

IntroductionQualitative fit testing is a popular method of ensuring the fit of sealing face masks such as N95 and FFP3 masks. Increased demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to shortages in testing equipment and has forced many institutions to abandon fit testing. Three key materials are required for qualitative fit testing: the test solution, nebulizer, and testing hood. Accessible alternatives to the testing solution have been studied. This exploratory qualitative study evaluates alternatives to the nebulizer and hoods for performing qualitative fit testing. MethodsFour devices were trialed to replace the test kit nebulizer. Two enclosures were tested for their ability to replace the test hood. Three researchers evaluated promising replacements under multiple mask fit conditions to assess functionality and accuracy. ResultsThe aroma diffuser and smaller enclosures allowed participants to perform qualitative fit tests quickly and with high accuracy. Discussion & ConclusionAroma diffusers show significant promise in their ability to allow individuals to quickly, easily, and inexpensively perform qualitative fit testing. Our findings indicate that aroma diffusers and homemade testing hoods may allow for qualitative fit testing when conventional apparatus is unavailable. Additional research is needed to evaluate the safety and reliability of these devices.