Facial anthropometric differences among gender, ethnicity, and age groups

Ann Occup Hyg. 2010 Jun;54(4):391-402. doi: 10.1093/annhyg/meq007. Epub 2010 Mar 10.


Objectives: The impact of race/ethnicity upon facial anthropometric data in the US workforce, on the development of personal protective equipment, has not been investigated to any significant degree. The proliferation of minority populations in the US workforce has increased the need to investigate differences in facial dimensions among these workers. The objective of this study was to determine the face shape and size differences among race and age groups from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health survey of 3997 US civilian workers.

Methods: Survey participants were divided into two gender groups, four racial/ethnic groups, and three age groups. Measurements of height, weight, neck circumference, and 18 facial dimensions were collected using traditional anthropometric techniques. A multivariate analysis of the data was performed using Principal Component Analysis. An exploratory analysis to determine the effect of different demographic factors had on anthropometric features was assessed via a linear model. The 21 anthropometric measurements, body mass index, and the first and second principal component scores were dependent variables, while gender, ethnicity, age, occupation, weight, and height served as independent variables.

Results: Gender significantly contributes to size for 19 of 24 dependent variables. African-Americans have statistically shorter, wider, and shallower noses than Caucasians. Hispanic workers have 14 facial features that are significantly larger than Caucasians, while their nose protrusion, height, and head length are significantly shorter. The other ethnic group was composed primarily of Asian subjects and has statistically different dimensions from Caucasians for 16 anthropometric values. Nineteen anthropometric values for subjects at least 45 years of age are statistically different from those measured for subjects between 18 and 29 years of age. Workers employed in manufacturing, fire fighting, healthcare, law enforcement, and other occupational groups have facial features that differ significantly than those in construction.

Conclusions: Statistically significant differences in facial anthropometric dimensions (P < 0.05) were noted between males and females, all racial/ethnic groups, and the subjects who were at least 45 years old when compared to workers between 18 and 29 years of age. These findings could be important to the design and manufacture of respirators, as well as employers responsible for supplying respiratory protective equipment to their employees.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Anthropometry*
  • Data Collection
  • Equipment Design
  • Face / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Occupational Health
  • Occupations / statistics & numerical data
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Racial Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Respiratory Protective Devices
  • Sex Factors
  • United States
  • Young Adult