Can homemade fit testing solutions be as effective as commercial products?
Mitchell, BG and Wells, A and McGregor, A and McKenzie, D, Can homemade fit testing solutions be as effective as commercial products?, Healthcare Infection, 17, (4) pp. 111-114. ISSN 1835-5617 (2012) [Refereed Article]
Copyright 2012 Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control
Abstract. Background: Fit testing is used to determine whether a N95 mask will provide respiratory protection for
the wearer by preventing inhalation of airborne transmitted microorganisms. National guidelines recommend that
healthcare workers (HCW) who use N95 masks require fit testing. Quantitative fit testing requires the purchasing and
use of fit testing solutions and associated equipment. In high volume, these solutions are expensive and may not be
readily available, as was seen in the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic. The aim of this study was to determine how a
homemade solution compared against a commercially available product and a placebo.
Methods:Afit test was performed on the same person, on three separate occasions, using three different solutions –
commercial (45% sodium saccharin), homemade (to be disclosed) and placebo (water). The solution was double
blinded and solutions were chosen and administered in a random order.
Results:Atotal of 48 people participated in this study. At the threshold testing stage, 8.3% did not taste any solution,
16.7% of people could taste the placebo, 89.6% could taste the commercial solution and 91.7% could taste the
homemade solution. All persons who could taste the commercial solution could taste homemade solution.
Conclusion: The findings of our study suggest that fit testing solutions could be made locally with a similar effect to
that of commercial products, that quantitative fit testing is unreliable and that serious consideration should be given to
the role of quantitative fit testing in future guidelines and standards. We recommend that this study be conducted on a
larger scale to support our findings.