Development of a Manikin-Based Performance Evaluation Method for Loose-Fitting Powered Air-Purifying Respirators
Mike Bergman, Rohan Basu, Zhipeng Lei, George Niezgoda, and Ziqing Zhuang
Objective: Loose-fitting powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) are increasingly being used in healthcare. NIOSH has previously used advanced manikin headforms to develop methods to evaluate filtering facepiece respirator fit; research has now begun to develop methods to evaluate PAPR performance using headforms. This preliminary study investigated the performance of PAPRs at different work rates to support development of a manikin-based test method.
Methods: Manikin penetration factors (mPF) of three models of loose-fitting PAPRs were measured at four different work rates (REST: 11 Lpm, LOW: 25 Lpm, MODERATE: 48 Lpm, and HIGH: 88 Lpm) using a medium-sized NIOSH static advanced headform mounted onto a torso. In-mask differential pressure was monitored throughout each test. Two condensation particle counters were used to measure the sodium chloride aerosol concentrations in the test chamber and also inside the PAPR facepiece over a 2-minute sample period. Two test system configurations were evaluated for returning air to the headform in the exhalation cycle (filtered and unfiltered). Geometric mean (GM) and 5th percentile mPFs for each model/work rate combination were computed. Analysis of variance tests were used to assess the variables affecting mPF.
Results: PAPR model, work rate, and test configuration significantly affected PAPR performance. PAPR airflow rates for the three models were approximately 185, 210, and 235 Lpm. All models achieved GM mPFs and 5th percentile mPFs greater than their designated Occupational Safety and Health Administration assigned protection factors despite negative minimum pressures observed for some work rate/model combinations.
Conclusions: PAPR model, work rate, and test configuration affect PAPR performance. Advanced headforms have potential for assessing PAPR performance once test methods can be matured. A manikin-based inward leakage test method for PAPRs can be further developed using the knowledge gained from this study. Future studies should vary PAPR airflow rate to better understand the effects on performance. Additional future research is needed to evaluate the correlation of PAPR performance using advanced headforms to the performance measured with human subjects.
Keywords: powered air-purifying respirator, PAPR, NIOSH-approved respirator, respirator performance.