Respirator fit of a medium mask on a group of South Africans: a cross-sectional study

Environ Health. 2011 Mar 15:10:17. doi: 10.1186/1476-069X-10-17.


Background: In South Africa, respiratory protective equipment is often the primary control method used to protect workers. This preliminary study investigated how well a common disposable P2 respirator fitted persons with a range of facial dimensions.

Methods: Quantitative respirator fit tests were performed on 29 volunteers from different racial, gender and face size groups. Two facial dimensions width (bizygomatic) and length (menton-sellion) were measured for all participants.

Results: In this study 13.8% of the participants demonstrated a successful fit with the medium sized mask. These included participants from three different racial and both gender groups. The large percentage of failed fit tests (86%) indicates that reliance on off-the-shelf respirators could be problematic in South Africa.

Conclusions: The limitations of this preliminary study notwithstanding, respirator fit appear to be associated with individual facial characteristics and are not specific to racial/ethnic or gender characteristics.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cephalometry*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Equipment Design
  • Face / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Racial Groups
  • Respiratory Protective Devices* / standards
  • South Africa