Comparative Performance Testing of Respirator versus Surgical Mask Using a Water Droplet Spray Model.
Scheepers PTJ., Wertheim HFL., van Dael M., Anzion R., Holterman HJ., Teerenstra S., de Groot M., Voss A., Hopman J.
BackgroundDuring the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, there was shortage of the standard respiratory protective equipment (RPE). The aim of this study was to develop a procedure to test the performance of alternative RPEs used in the care of COVID-19 patients.MethodsA laboratory-based test was developed to compare RPEs by total inward leakage (TIL). We used a crossflow nebulizer to produce a jet spray of 1-100 µm water droplets with a fluorescent marker. The RPEs were placed on a dummy head and sprayed at distances of 30 and 60 cm. The outcome was determined as the recovery of the fluorescent marker on a membrane filter placed on the mouth of the dummy head.ResultsAt 30 cm, a type IIR surgical mask gave a 17.7% lower TIL compared with an FFP2 respirator. At 60 cm, this difference was similar, with a 21.7% lower TIL for the surgical mask compared to the respirator. When adding a face shield, the TIL at 30 cm was further reduced by 9.5% for the respirator and 16.6% in the case of the surgical mask.ConclusionsA safe, fast and very sensitive test method was developed to assess the effectiveness of RPE by comparison under controlled conditions.