Levitt-Safety Blog

What is fit testing and why should I care?

Jonathan McCallumMarket Segment Manager: Occupational Health, Industrial Hygiene & Environmental MonitoringNovember 21, 2019

Do you wear a respirator for work? Were you fit tested for it? If you haven’t been, you should be!

A respirator fit test is an essential component of your respiratory protection program.

photo of man being fit tested for a respirator

Who should be fit tested for a respirator?

You should be fit tested to make sure your facepiece provides an effective seal if you wear a:

  • tight-fitting respirator during your normal workday, or
  • respirator to preform emergency response activities.

That seal (or 'fit') lets you know your respirator will give you the proper level of protection when you need it.

A fit test verifies you're using the right make, model and size of respirator. Above that, it serves as a training tool to show proper use and assess the comfort of the respirator.

Respirators that need a fit test include:

  • filtering facepieces (N95)
  • half-face respirator
  • full-face respirator, and
  • SCBAs

firefighter in uniform being fit tested by female wearing blue polo shirt


There are 2 types of respirator fit tests used in Canada:

1. Qualitative fit testing (QLFT)

Qualitative fit testing is a pass or fail method to determine if your mask fits. The tester sprays bitter or sweet aerosols near your mask. If you can taste the spray, your mask isn't a proper fit.

2. Quantitative fit testing (QNFT)

Quantitative fit testing is number driven. It measures the effectiveness of the respirator seal by reading inside and outside environments. Learn more about quantitative fit tests.

How often should you be fit tested?

You need to be fit tested at least once every 2 years. You must have your first test before using your assigned respirator for the first time.

You should also complete a fit test if there’s a change in your respirator size. For instance, if you gained or lost weight.

What to wear during a fit test:

If you wear other PPE or prescription eyewear on the job, you should wear it during the test. During a quantitative fit test, you’ll perform a series of moving, breathing and talking exercises. The idea is to simulate the same movements you make in the field.

You must be clean-shaven during a respirator fit test. You can learn the reason why in our blog on fit testing and facial hair

Health care

Which fit test is better?

Both qualitative and quantitative respirator fit testing protocols are acceptable.

We recommend using quantitative respiratory testing because it's more accurate and provides more in-depth results. You can learn more about the tests by reading CSA Z94. An employer or service provider with the proper training, equipment, and experience can perform either type of test.

Ready to book a quantitative respirator fit test for your team?

Click 'tell me more' to get started!