Work performance when breathing through different respirator exhalation resistances

AIHAJ. 2001 Jul-Aug;62(4):411-5. doi: 10.1080/15298660108984642.


This study evaluated performance of individuals exercising at a fixed workload and wearing full-facepiece respirators modified to provide expiratory resistances of 0.27, 0.47, 1.81, 4.43, and 12.27 cmH20 x s x L(-1). On five separate occasions, 15 volunteers exercised to voluntary endpoint on a treadmill at fixed speeds and grades chosen to elicit 85% of maximal aerobic capacity for an unencumbered condition. Exercise performance time was recorded at the cessation of each test. Results showed that performance time decreased linearly (R2 = 0.79; p<0.001) with increased resistances, and no threshold value below which expiratory resistance has no impact on performance was found. Average oxygen consumption rates and minute ventilation also decreased linearly with increased expiratory resistances, indicating that increases in expiratory resistance result in a considerable level of hypoventilation. From the perspective of respirator design, the results of this study suggest that the only practical expiratory resistance level limitation is the reduction in performance that will be acceptable to the end users.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Respiration*
  • Respiratory Protective Devices*