Laboratory and field evaluation of a new personal sampling system for assessing the protection provided by the N95 filtering facepiece respirators against particles

Shu An Lee, Sergey A. Grinshpun, Atin Adhikari, Weixin Li, Roy Mckay, Andrew Maynard, Tiina Reponen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Objectives: We have recently developed a new personal sampling system for the real-time measurement of the protection provided by respirators against airborne dust and microorganisms. The objective of this study was to evaluate the performance characteristics of the new sampling system in both laboratory and field conditions. Methods: The measurements were conducted using the N95 filtering facepiece respirators and the newly developed personal sampling system put on a manikin (laboratory study) or donned by a human subject (laboratory and field studies). Two inhalation flow rates (0 and 40 l min-1) in conjunction with the sampling flow rate (10 l min-1) were tested in the manikin-based experiments to investigate the effects of the leak location (nose, cheek and chin) and the depth of the sampling probe (0, 5, 10 and 15 mm) within the respirator. The effect of human activity on the protection Factor was evaluated using a variety of head movements and breathing patterns when a human subject wore the respirator in a room-size laboratory test chamber. The field study was conducted during corn harvesting with a respirator worn by a human subject on a combine. Results: There was no significant difference in the protection factors for different leak locations, or for sampling probe depths, when the inhalation rate was 0 l min-1. For the inhalation rate of 40 l min-1, the protection factors for nose leaks were higher than those for chin and cheek leaks. Furthermore, the protection factor was the lowest and showed the least variation when the sampling probe depth was equal to 0 mm (imbedded on the respirator surface). Human subject testing showed that the grimace maneuver decreased the protection factor and changed the original respirator fit. The protection factor during breath holding was lower than that found during inhalation and exhalation. Field results showed greater variation than laboratory results. Conclusions: The newly designed personal sampling system efficiently detected the changes in protection factors in real time. The sampling flow was least affected by the inhalation flow when the sampling probe was imbedded on the respirator surface. Leak location, breathing patterns and exercises did affect the measurement of the protection factors obtained using an N95 filtering facepiece respirator. This can be attributed to the differences in the in-mask airflow dynamics contributed by the leak, filter material, sampling probe and inhalation. In future studies, it would be beneficial if the laboratory data could be integrated with the field database.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-257
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of Occupational Hygiene
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Breathing pattern
  • Depth of the sampling probe
  • Fit testing
  • Leak location
  • Leak size
  • Protection factor
  • Respirator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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