The main difference between quantitative mask fit testing and qualitative mask fit testing is that quantitative testing objectively measures the amount of leakage (quantity) while qualitative testing relies subjectively on the users taste and smell to detect leakage.
Qualitative mask fit testing is a test based entirely on your ability to smell and/or taste a spray solution or smoke. This is completed using one of four solutions:
- Irritant smoke;
- Isoamyl acetate (banana oil); or
For the first part of the mask (respirator) fit test a sensitivity test is performed to see if you have a strong or weak sense of taste with the testing agent. Once we know how well you taste the testing solution, you are fitted with a respirator and a seal check is completed. Then, with your mask on, you don a hood into which we will spray the atomized testing solution. While the smell within your hood becomes stronger and stronger, we will help you through a series of exercises designed to test your respirator seal (head movement, talking, breathing, et cetera). If by the end of the exercises you do not detect any of the solution leaking through your respirator then we can be confident that you have a good seal and you have the correct respirator!
Here at Link2Life, we use either Bitrex (bitter taste) or saccharin (sweet taste). If you cannot taste Bitrex or saccharin, you will likely need to go for quantitative mask fit testing to make sure your respirator is sealed correctly.
Quantitative mask fit testing is a more precise test that uses a machine instead of your sense of smell and/or taste to determine whether or not you have the proper mask size. The machine used is called a Portacount and it measures the quality of the air inside and outside your respirator to determine how well your respirator fits you. This kind of testing is more expensive and time consuming than qualitative fit testing. We do not offer quantitative mask fit testing at Link2Life at this time.