Level of match between facial dimensions of Chilean workers and respirator fit test panels proposed by LANL and NIOSH

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The facial fit of respirators is crucial for determining how effectively respirators may protect users from exposure to airborne contaminants, when their use is required in the workplace. In the Chilean market, all the respirators available have been designed and manufactured using foreign regulations. The aim of this research was to determine the facial dimensions in a sample of Chilean workers (users or potential users of respiratory protective equipment) and the possible mismatch between their anthropometric characteristics and the respirator fit test panels proposed by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). An anthropometric survey that included 11 measurements was conducted, based on ISO/TS 16976–2 and ISO 15535 to ensure the highest standards possible, and a total of 474 workers (female: 229, male: 245), aged 18–66 years old participated in the survey. The anthropometric measurements were then contrasted with the fit test panels used in LANL (for half and full facepieces) and NIOSH (Bivariate and Principal component analysis (PCA)), to verify the level of mismatch. The results showed that LANL panels presented a level of mismatch of 11.8% and 21% for the half-facepiece and the full-facepiece, respectively. Considering the NIOSH bivariate and PCA panels, 4.6% and 4.4% of the sample remains without an assigned cell, respectively. It can be concluded that the LANL panels for half and full facepieces do not match the facial dimensions of the Chilean working population. The panels developed by NIOSH and considered by the ISO/TS 16976–2 (bivariate and PCA), are applicable to the Chilean working population. Relevance for the Industry: This research provides anthropometric measurements of Chilean workers, to determine the dimensions for half- and full-facepiece respirators, which are currently not available. The NIOSH or ISO fit test panels, as opposed to LANL panels, should be used when manufacturing respirators for Chilean workers.