Environmental Health and Safety

Environmental Health and Safety

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Respirator Fit Testing

The Department of Environmental Health and Safety has a Respiratory Protection Program in place to provide information and guidance on the use and care of respirators. This program is intended to help reduce exposure levels of dusts, fumes, mists, gases and vapours when exposures to contaminants cannot be eliminated or reduced by engineering controls. 

Respirator fit testing is offered by the Department of Environmental Health and Safety and is mandatory to anyone who is required to wear a respirator during the course of their work. We perform qualitative fit testing using bitrix and sacchrin. 

The Respirator Health Screen Questionnaire is available for download at the bottom of this page, you will need to print this off and fill out all the necessary information. Once you've completed the questionnaire and it has been signed by yourself and a supervisor you can scan the document and submit it through the link at the bottom of this page. Upon receiving your questionnaire we will review it in order to determine if you require additional screening, if further assessment by a medical professional is required you will be contacted by a nurse from Walsh and Associates, the Occupational Health provider for Queen's University. If the nurse determines that you need to be seen by Dr. Walsh, then there will likely be a charge to your supervisor for that visit. If after reviewing your questionnaire, or after further assessment from Walsh and Associates, we determine that the fit testing can proceed, we will contact you to set up an appointment. 

When you come in for the fit test, you must not have eaten, chewed gum, smoked, or drank anything except water for 30 minutes prior to the testing. Men must be clean shaven. The testing process will take approximately 15 minutes and we can test a maximum of 2 people at a time. If you have a large group of people to be tested be sure to let us know and we can arrange for groups of 2 to be tested every 15 minutes. 

Those being fit tested on disposable respirators are to bring the respirators in that they are supplied with by their department. If you're being fit tested on a half or full face respirator and have already purchased it, you must bring that respirator in for your test. If you're being fit tested on a half or full face respirator and have not already purchased one we have a variety of models and sizes available here that you may use to perform the testing. We do not sell respirators, however, you can use ours for the fit testing to find one that fits your face the best and then go out and purchase that model on your own.

Prior to coming in to be tested please ensure that you have read the Respirator Protection Policy (SOP-Safety-05) (PDF 116KB)

If you have any questions about this process or wish to arrange for group testing, please contact safety@queensu.ca

Health Screening Questionnaire for Respirator Users (PDF 185KB)

Submit Health Screening Questionnaire


Respirator Cartridges

Respirators use cartridges to remove contaminants from the air, regardless of the type of hazard that the respirator is being used to protect yourself from, a cartridge change schedule is needed to ensure that they're replaced before the end of the service life. The service life of a cartridge depends upon many factors, including environmental conditions, breathing rate, cartridge filtering capacity and the amount of contaminants in the air. Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that they set up a cartridge change schedule for all respirators in use within their department. In order to set up a change schedule you can find additional information on the 3M website listed below which will provide you with an estimated breakthrough time for cartridges based off of the concentration of the substance that the cartridge will be exposed to, always err on the side of caution when creating a change schedule and use conservative estimates.

In certain circumstances filters and/or cartridges must be replaced before the regular scheduled change date, the following information identifies situations where filters/cartridges should be changed immediately. 

Particulate filters must be replaced when: 

  • It becomes difficult to breathe.
  • The filter becomes dirty or is damaged.

For P-Series filters only when used in environments containing oil aerosols:

  • Dispose P-Series filters after 40 hours of use or 30 days, whichever is first.

Vapour cartridges must be replaced when:

  • In accordance with your established change schedule or government regulation.
  • Immediately if the contaminant can be detected inside the respirator by smell or taste. 

To avoid using a vapour cartridge beyond its service life, take the following steps:

  • Prior to use, check the expiration date printed on the package
  • Write the date on the cartridge after it has been removed from the pack.
  • Change in accordance with your established cartridge change schedule or government regulation.
  • If at any time you smell or taste the contaminant or irritation is detected, leave the contaminated area immediately and try adjusting your respirator and/or change the respirator cartridges.

For assistance with establishing how frequently cartridges should be replaced, visit 3M.com/ServiceLifeSoftware or call the 3M Technical Service Helpline 1-800-243-4630

When stored unopened in the original packaging and away from direct sunlight, humidity and sources of high temperature, cartridges will last five years from the manufacture date. Packaging will have a "use by" date on them.