IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

Evaluation of the Performances of a Range of Filtering Facepiece Respirators for Ultrafine Particles


With diameters of less than or equal to 100 nm, ultrafine particles (UFP) potentially pose a risk to workers’ health and safety. In Québec, there are still no regulations in place to limit exposure to ultrafine particles and to characterize the properties of nanoparticles. A precautionary approach is recommended in terms of exposure to ultrafine particles in the workplace.

This research activity arises from two other IRSST funded studies: Development of a procedure for measuring the effectiveness of filters collecting nanoparticles and Evaluating the performance of an N95 filter against ultrafine particles, including nanoparticles, with a cyclic airflow that simulates the breathing of workers.

The first study resulted in the development of a procedure for measuring the effectiveness of filters against UFP, and demonstrated that the initial penetration rate of particles rose considerably under increased airflow. The second study made it possible to evaluate the effectiveness of an N95 filter model in capturing UFP under experimental conditions approaching those found in the workplace and imitating the breathing of a human being.

The main objective of this activity is to evaluate the performance of other filtering facepiece respirators (FFR) and to investigate whether the results obtained during previous studies could be extrapolated to other types of FFR used in Québec workplaces.

The evaluation of the effectiveness of these filtering facepieces will make it possible to better protect workers, who will have useful and credible information in order to make their choice from among the FFR available.