Here at Mercy Urgent Care in Western North Carolina, we know a respirator mask is only as good as its fit — and, in these times of need, we’re here to help.
Whether you’re an employer or an individual needing an N95 or other respirator mask for work, Mercy welcomes you to take advantage of our N95 Respirator Mask Fit-Testing services, performed by an OSHA-trained professional. Especially during these unprecedented times, it’s important to ensure your team is outfitted with the correct size and model masks for each individual’s face.
As OSHA puts it: “A respirator can’t protect you if it doesn’t fit your face. It’s that simple.”
What is a fit test?
A “fit test” tests the seal between the respirator’s facepiece and your face. It takes about 15-20 minutes to complete and should be performed at least annually. After passing a fit test with a respirator, you must use the exact same make, model, style, and size respirator on the job to ensure a proper fit. If your respirator doesn’t fit your face properly, contaminated air can leak into your respirator facepiece, putting you at risk for breathing in hazardous substances. This test can be performed on N95, half-face and full-face masks.
A fit test should not be confused with a user seal check, which is a quick check performed by the wearer each time the respirator is put on to determine if the respirator is properly seated to the face or needs adjusting.
What to expect
Mercy Urgent Care conducts qualitative fit-testing, a pass/fail test method that uses your sense of taste or smell to detect leakage into the respirator facepiece. Whether the respirator passes or fails the test is based simply on you detecting leakage of the test substance into your facepiece. Mercy uses both Saccharin, which leaves a sweet taste in the mouth, and Bitrex, which leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, to test masks for leakage.
Know before you go
Wear prescription glasses or personal protective equipment on the job?
Bring these items with you and wear them during the test to be sure they don’t interfere with the respirator’s fit.
Not everyone can get a good fit with one specific respirator.
If the respirator fails the fit test, then another make, model, style, or size must be tried until one is found that fits you properly. Therefore, you may want to arrive with a selection of sizes and models to choose from. Ask your employer to provide you with several different styles and sizes for the test — or, for an additional fee, Mercy can supply a respirator for the test. When you’ve completed the fit-testing process, it’s important to remember which make, model, style, and size respirator fits your face properly, and to only use that specific style for protection.
Have you recently lost or gained a significant amount of weight or had facial or dental surgery?
Anyone who has experienced changes to their physical condition since his or her last fit test should consider coming in for retesting, as these changes could affect the ability of the respirator to seal property to the face, allowing contaminated air to leak into the facepiece.
Do you sport a beard or mustache?
Facial hair can also affect your respirator’s ability to protect you. Anything that comes between your face and the respirator’s seal or gets into the respirator’s valves can allow contaminated air to leak into the respirator facepiece and you will not be protected. Fit tests are the only way to be sure that you are, in fact, protected against contaminated air.
Make an Appointment
Fit tests are by appointment only. To make an appointment with Mercy Urgent Care for an N95 Respirator Mask Fit Test, call Ana Jimenez at 828-254-7576. Onsite workplace testing is available for your workforce team, and individual testing is by appointment only at the West Asheville and South Asheville locations. From one team of professionals to another: Stay safe!