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J Occup Environ Hyg. 2014;11(8):499-508. doi: 10.1080/15459624.2013.877590.

Evaluation of N95 filtering facepiece respirator efficiency with cyclic and constant flows.

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a Chemical and Biological Hazards Prevention, Research and Expertise Division, IRSST , Montreal , Canada.


An increasing demand for protecting workers against harmful inhalable ultrafine particles (UFPs), by means of filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs), necessitates assessing the efficiency of FFRs. This article evaluates the penetration of particles, mostly in the ultrafine range, through one model of N95 FFRs exposed to cyclic and constant flows, simulating breathing for moderate to heavy work loads. The generated particles were poly-dispersed NaCl, within the range of 10-205.4 nm. The tests were performed for several cyclic flows, with mean inhalation flows (MIFs) ranging from 42 to 360 L/min, and constant flows with the same range. The measurements were based on filter penetration and did not consider particle leakage. With the penetrations recorded for the selected constant and cyclic flows, the worst-case scenario penetrations at the most penetrating particle size (MPPS) were obtained. The MPPS penetrations measured with the cyclic and constant flows equivalent to minute volume, MIF and peak inhalation flow (PIF) of the cyclic flows were then compared. It was indicated that the constant flows equivalent to the minute volume or PIF of the cyclic flow could not accurately represent the penetration of the corresponding cyclic flow: the constant flow equal to the minute volume of the cyclic flow significantly underestimated the MPPS penetration of the corresponding cyclic flow, while the constant flow equal to the PIF of the cyclic flow overestimated it. On the other hand, for the constant flow equal to the MIF of the cyclic flow, the MPPS penetrations were almost equal for both the constant and cyclic flows, for the lower flow rates (42 to 170 L/min). For higher flow rates (230 to 360 L/min), however, the MPPS penetration was exceeded under the constant flows, compared with the corresponding cyclic flows. It was therefore concluded that the constant flow equal to the MIF of the cyclic flow could better predict the results of corresponding cyclic flow, since it could provide the MPPS penetrations (worst-case scenario) equal to or greater than the MPPS penetrations of the cyclic flow.


N95 FFR; cyclic flow; mean inhalation flow; minute volume; peak inhalation flow; penetration; poly-dispersed

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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