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  • Writer's pictureRebekah McCutcheon


Updated: Feb 29

Bought A Cheap Mask? Maybe Think Twice.. Here's Why Quality Brands Matter

We are here to distinguish the difference between authentic products and cheap imitations. There are many counterfeit products online.

With so many respirators on the market, to the naked eye, they all look the same. The difference is you being suitably protected or highly protected. The only real way to determine how well your respirator is going to protect you from workplace hazards is to have it fit tested.

Once mask fit tested, your end score known as a 'fit factor', will reflect the level of protection you should expect to receive from that respirator when worn correctly.

Understanding Your Fit Test Fit Factor (FF)

Using specialised equipment, the TSI PortaCount counts particles in the air from outside the respirator vs the particles in the air detected inside the respirator. The equipment takes both these samples of air in unison for the duration of the test, it’s the ratio of these two samples that equate to the fit factor at the end. The final fit factor score will always vary, although the higher the score, the better the ‘fit’ (seal) to the wearer.

In short, the less your respirator leaks around the seal, the more effectively you pull air through the filters boosting your level of protection.

Below are the results from two different respirators that we fit tested. Both respirators were elastomeric half face, both identical in appearance, identical in size although one was an authentic brand, and the other an imitation to the original.

Seeing The Fit Factor Difference Between An Authentic Vs Imitation Respirator

Imitation Respirator Fit Factor

Fit Test Australia | Know Your Fit Factor | Fit Testing
PortaCount Software Fit Factor Result - Pass

This is an acceptable pass as only a fit factor of 100 is required. Results for a half face respirator should score much higher with fit factors being anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand if it fits well, is tested correctly and above all else, is a quality product.

Authentic Respirator Fit Factor

Fit Test Australia | Know Your Fit Factor | Fit Testing
PortaCount Software Fit Factor Result - High Pass

You can see that this fit factor is quite high and well into the thousands, this indicates the effectiveness of that respirators fit to the wearers face as well as a direct result of that respirators quality. This is a fit factor one would hope to receive when fit testing their respiratory protective equipment.

Knowing your fit factor can help you make a more informed decision about your respiratory protection.

Reasons For Poor Fit Factors and Fails

Below are some likely causes for a fit test to achieve either poor fit factors or fails:

  • Wrong size, make or model for the wearer

  • Poor quality respirator if brand new

  • Not properly adjusted to the wearer face, poor strap tension

  • Worn respirator may have minor defects that have been overlooked or undetected

  • An incompetent fit test operator equating to poor scores or even unnecessary fails

Although there may be varying causes for low fit factors and even fails, the two tests conducted in our examples were done back-to-back on the same person by the same operator, the results are marginally different. This brings us back to the importance of quality, authentic vs imitation know your fit factor, the results speak for themselves.

It is wise to only purchase respirators that are compliant with the AS/NZS 1716:2012 standards.

At Fit Test Australia Pty Ltd we are passionate about workers health and safety, authentic vs imitation, know your fit factor because as we like to say, every breath you take matters. Breathe easy.

Fit Test Australia | Know Your Fit Factor | Fit Testing
Healthy Lungs

Your health and safety is our priority

Call: 0403 064 064

FTA fit test Sydney NSW & Melbourne Victoria

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