On the job, it’s crucial your employees wear respirators to breath clean air. A tight fit on their masks may save their lungs from hazardous dust, sprays or gases. Mandatory respirator fit testing is the best way to ensure their safety.


When doing your research, you may notice that there is qualitative fit testing and quantitative fit testing. This may lead to some confusion. What is the difference between the two? What types of respirators are tested by the qualitative test? What about quantitative fit? Read on to learn the difference between quantitative and qualitative fit testing and how Examinetics can help you.


Qualitative Fit Testing:


Qualitative fit testing is a pass/fail method used on half-masks that relies on senses, such as taste and smell, to detect air leakage from your respirator. The half masks being tested must have an overall fit factor (mask particle concentration divided by the ambient particle concentration) of 100 or less. The test relies on a harmless, yet bitter-tasting chemical called Bitrex, which will determine whether you pass. Rather than measuring the amount of leakage into the facepiece, the qualitative fit test determines whether the facepiece is in working order. Unfortunately, if you taste a bitter substance, it is a fail.


Specifically, at Examinetics, we offer taste only tests. For those who cannot detect bitter taste, we offer saccharin, an artificial sweetener, as a replacement.


·         Birtex: a chemical that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth 

·         Saccharin: a chemical that leaves a sweet taste in your mouth


Quantitative Fit Testing:


Quantitative fit testing is the process to measure the precise amount of leakage into any tight-fitting facepieces. Instead of relying on bitter-tasting chemicals and your senses, the test is performed by a machine calculating the measurements. Typically, the facepiece is attached to a probe, which is connected to the measuring machine by a hose. According to OSHA regulations, there are three acceptable quantitative fit test methods:


·         Generated aerosol

·         Ambient aerosol

·         Controlled Negative pressure


Upon completion of the test, each eligible employee has issued a card listing the make, model, and sizes of respirator they received a passed fit test on.  You also receive a location wide respirator fit summary report that includes a listing of all your employees tested, the make, model and size of mask they are cleared to wear.


At Examinetics, we can keep your workforces healthy and safe from hazardous airborne material, and OSHA compliant through our respirator fit testing and respirator clearance services. We deliver comprehensive qualitative and quantitative fit testing right at your company’s door.


Essential links

·         OSHA Safety and Health: Respirator Fit Testing
U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration

·         OSHA Safety and Health: Respiratory Protection eTool

U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration

·         Respirator Fit Tests: Quantitative vs. Qualitative
Triumvirate Environmental



This is business-to-business information intended for EHS (environmental health and safety) professionals and not intended for the final consumer. Companies should check the local regulatory status of any claim according to their individual needs, requirements and intended use.