Respiratory Protection Evaluations

Respiratory Protection Evaluations

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Spirometry is a screening test used in occupational health to determine a worker’s lung function status. It is the most important exam to diagnose and monitor COPD. Spirometry is the term given to the basic lung function tests that measure the air that is expired and inspired. It consists of three basic related measurements volume, time and flow.

Health Hines suggests that companies with workers exposed to airborne particulates implement an annual lung health program which consists of spirometry, chest X-rays, fitness-to-wear (a respirator questionnaire), and mask fit testing.

This program will allow employers to manage airborne hazards and promote early identification and intervention.

Many workplace substances can cause breathing problems or lung damage. For example:

  • Dust from wood, cotton, coal, asbestos, silica, talc, cereal grains, coffee, pesticides, drug or enzyme powders, metals, and fiberglass.
  • Fumes from metals that are heated and cooled quickly. These fumes occur in welding, smelting, furnace work, pottery making, plastics manufacturing, and rubber operations.
  • Smoke from burning organic materials. For instance, firefighters are at an increased risk of lung damage from smoke.
  • Gases such as formaldehyde, ammonia, chlorine, sulfur dioxide, ozone and nitrogen oxides. These gases occur in welding, brazing, smelting, oven drying, and furnace work.
  • Vapors, which are a form of gas given off by all liquids.
  • Mists or sprays from paints, lacquers (such as varnish), hair spray, pesticides, cleaning products, acids, oils, and solvents (such as turpentine).

Workers exposed to these substances should submit to annual and periodic spirometry testing in order to monitor their lung health.

How to Prepare

  • Bring your government-issued photo ID (driver’s license, passport, military ID, etc.)
  • Do not smoke for one hour before the test
  • Do not drink alcohol within four hours of the test
  • Do not eat a large meal within two hours of the test
  • Wear loose clothing
  • Do not perform vigorous exercise within 30 minutes of the test
  • If you are on puffer medications, you may be asked to refrain from taking them for a few hours before spirometry. Ask your doctor (or the centre performing the test) beforehand if this applies to you.

What to Expect:

  • Fill out a form with required information.
  • The test will be performed while you are in a standing position. A chair will be placed behind you in case you become light-headed.
  • Once the test has be performed and at least two acceptable tests have occurred you will be finished.


During the procedure you will be ask to:

  • Breathe in as deeply as you can
  • Seal your lips around the mouthpiece
  • Blow out as hard and fast as you can, and keep going as long as possible.

This test will be repeated three times.

Fit testing is an important requirement in the process of determining whether a given respirator is the “correct” respirator for a particular worker. Prior to fit testing, the individual should be medically assessed for conditions that would prevent the person from using a respirator. The assessment should also consider conditions that may require field testing.

Respirator-fit testing ensures that participants are wearing the proper size of the brand/model of mask that has been selected for their job site.  A proper mask fit will establish that no leaks are occurring around the seal of the mask and that particulates are being properly filtered.


Health Hines performs both qualitative and quantitative fit testing methods in accordance with OHS and CSA requirements.



Quantitative respirator-fit testing is performed by using a Portacount and is considered the “fit factor” in fit testing. The term “fit factor” is used to express the results of a quantitative fit test. A fit factor is the ratio of the test agent concentration outside the respirator to the test agent concentration inside the respirator. It may also be the ratio of total airflow through the respirator (modeled by the fit test instrument) to the airflow through face seal leaks.


Quantitative mask-fit testing offers several advantages:


  • It eliminates reliance on the participant’s subjectivity and sensitivity to testing agents.
  • Results are immediate
  • The test can be used to analyze almost all respirators, including tight fitting half- and full-face masks and SCBAs (Self-Contained Breathing Apparatuses).
  • The quantitative respirator fit testing software complies with many regulatory standards, including those from the Canadian Standards Association.



Qualitative fit testing is one of two broad categories of testing that OSHA recognizes. The qualitative fit test procedures rely on the subjective sensory (taste, irritation, smell) response of the respirator wearer to a particular test agent, while the quantitative procedures measure actual face seal leakage.The testing agents include either irritant smoke, bitrex, or isoamyl acetate (banana oil) and rely on the worker’s reactions (for example, coughing or reporting a taste or smell) while wearing the respirator to detect the agent. If no agent is detected during the fit test, the result is considered a pass.


The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) recommends that individuals complete a fitness-to-wear respirator questionnaire prior to a respirator fit test to ensure that they are medically safe to wear a respirator and participate in the fit testing protocol. The purpose of the questionnaire is to prevent a worker from suffering a negative medical effect from wearing a respirator due to a medical condition. Depending on the results of the questionnaire, a doctor’s review may be required.

Chest X-rays are a common type of exam. A chest X-ray is often among the first procedures you’ll undergo if your doctor suspects you have heart or lung disease. It can also be used to check how you are responding to treatment.

Some Health issues that can be identified through X-rays are:

  • Pulmonary disorders
  • Cancer
  • Cardiac disorders
  • tuberculosis

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We are health professionals with extensive occupational health experience and can provide a complete occupational health program for your company or individual services.

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NEW! 805 Memorial Drive, Suite 101A
Fort McMurray, Alberta

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Toll Free:1-844-893-6909
Office: 780-790-6909
Fax: 587-537-7701

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