Distribution of faceseal leak sites on a half-mask respirator and their association with facial dimensions

Am Ind Hyg Assoc J. 1990 May;51(5):285-90. doi: 10.1080/15298669091369664.


Faceseal leaks on one brand of half-mask respirator worn by 73 human subjects were identified by deposition of a fluorescent tracer aerosol during a standard quantitative fit test. The identified leaks were categorized according to their location and shape. It was found that about 89% of all observed leaks occurred at the nose or chin or were multiple leaks which included these sites. Fit factors for these types of leaks were significantly lower than for other types of leaks. About 73% of all leaks approximated the shape of a slit rather than a round orifice, and the prevalence of these leaks was affected by gender. Significant association of facial dimensions and leak sites were found. Most of these were attributed to differences in gender, and only a very small percentage were for the facial dimensions used to define the Los Alamos respirator test panel. Significant correlation of facial dimensions and fit factor were found for only three facial dimensions; none of which are used to define the test panel. Evidence of airflow streamlining within the facepiece was observed on 22% of the subjects. Results of this study indicate that respirator leakage is strongly affected by nose and chin leaks, that gender is a factor in how a respirator fits, and that consideration should be given to including nasal dimensions when defining a respirator test panel and selecting a respirator for an individual wearer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Failure
  • Face / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Protective Devices*
  • Reference Values
  • Respiratory Protective Devices*
  • Sex Factors