The International Society for Respiratory Protection

pdf JISRP Vol. 38, No. 2 2021 pp. 1 - 11 Seo (Open Access)

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Necessity of the Fit Test Panel for Korean Respirator Users: Application to Korean Healthcare Workers

Hyekyung Seo, Jun-Pyo Myong, Byoung-kab Kang, Young-il Kwon

With the recent novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, the importance of respirator fit has been increasing. We attempted to classify the face sizes of Korean Healthcare Workers (HCWs) using the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Bivariate Panel and compared the fit factor by category. A quantitative fit test was conducted on 56 HCWs from five medical institutions using two types of N95 filtering facepiece respirators manufactured in South Korea. The length and width of the face were measured using calipers. The results of the fit test of the participants categorized using the NIOSH Bivariate Panel were compared among the groups. The face sizes were distributed in and out of the NIOSH Bivariate Panel. There was a significant difference in the distribution of face sizes between our study participants and those in the NIOSH Bivariate Panel (p=0.009). The 111 fit test results that we collected did not show a significant difference among the face size categories (p>0.05). The pass rates according to the small, medium, large, and outlier categories were not significantly different between the groups (p=0.767). Our study has a limitation that it is not representative of all Korean users. Despite this, the difference in face size distribution between the NIOSH Bivariate Panel subjects and Korean HCWs is noteworthy. There was no difference in the fit test results when the NIOSH facial category was applied, suggesting that applying the NIOSH Bivariate Panel to the face size of Koreans HCWs is not precise. Therefore, it is necessary to develop a Korean test panel and design respirators based on Korean face dimensions. Further, manufacturers should provide varying respirator sizes and styles based on these dimensions to improve respiratory protection for users.

Keywords: coronavirus disease; fit factor; healthcare workers; National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Bivariate Panel; quantitative fit test