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Am J Ind Med. 2011 Aug;54(8):628-36. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20970. Epub 2011 May 18.

Infrared imaging for leak detection of N95 filtering facepiece respirators: a pilot study.

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  • 1National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.



This study was undertaken to determine the utility of an infrared camera (IRC) for assessing leaks around filtering facepiece respirators (FFR) during quantitative respirator fit testing.


Eight subjects underwent quantitative fit testing on six N95 FFR models (48 total fit tests) while simultaneously being recorded with an IRC.


The IRC detected 49 exhalation leaks during 39 tests and no leaks in nine tests. Exhalation leaks were identified in all failed fit tests (13) and a majority (26 of 35) of passed tests. Anatomically, the nasal region and malar (cheekbone) regions accounted for 71% of identified leak sites. Fit factors for fit tests without identified exhalation leaks were significantly higher than fit tests with leaks detected by IRC (P = 0.01).


Thermal imaging using IRC can detect leaks in respiratory protective equipment and has the potential as a screening tool for assessment of the adequacy of post-donning FFR fit.

Copyright © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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