N95s are exceptional masks that can help you avoid airborne contaminants and concerns. However, they only work if they fit properly. Even small gaps around your nose, cheeks or chin can interfere with the seal on the mask and significantly undermine its effectiveness. Whether you’re wearing an N95 for work at a hospital or at an industrial facility, or wearing one to the grocery store, it’s wise to ensure that your mask fits so that you’re getting the protection you want. In this guide, you’ll learn more about fit testing procedures.
Basic N95 Fit Tips
If you don’t wear N95s at your workplace you may be unfamiliar with the basic principles of N95 fit. Essentially, the idea is that the entire edge of the mask must seal securely to your face. This includes the metal nose piece on the top of the mask, which often does not fit properly.
You also need to consider the impact of facial hair on the seal. The edge of the mask should not come into contact with any facial hair. Some facial hairstyles can avoid this, but people with beards and most facial hairstyles will need to remove them to achieve a proper fit.
What is a Fit Test for a Mask?
You can perform a simple fit test on your own at home, but official fit tests are more accurate and performed by third-party professionals. They ensure that the mask fits properly either on a quantitative or qualitative level. Those are two different kinds of tests and at least one must be conducted every two years if you’re wearing your mask at your workplace (i.e. hospital). If you have lost weight, gained weight or changed your facial hair, the test should be conducted again.
Do KN95 Masks Require Fit Testing?
Yes, KN95 masks should also be fit tested in order to ensure they are providing the level of protection that you expect.
How to Fit Test an N95 Mask
If you are wearing the mask for your own peace of mind out in public, you may do a basic fit test on your own. Simply put the mask on, and hold your hands near the edges. As you breathe out and in, try to feel if there is air movement around the edges of the mask. If there is, it is not fitted properly.
While this fit test is easy to conduct, it is far from foolproof. Professional fit testing involves the use of a machine that measures the actual seal and output of the mask or uses odour to help detect what size particles are able to move through the mask. A professional mask fit test is only required for those in high-risk professions, such as those that work in a hospital.
Where Can I Get a Fit Test Done?
You can get an N95 mask fit test done professionally at many third-party companies (not your employer). CanGard recommends the following third-party businesses to complete a fit test: Keen & Associates Training in Safety, Safety First Consulting Ltd, SOS First Aid and Advance Healthcare.
CanGard has all of the safety equipment that you need, including N95 masks, equipment, parts and accessories for completing fit tests by fit testing companies. Reach out to us today to discuss different models of N95 masks, how they fit, and to buy them.