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Article in English | Web of Science | ID: covidwho-1911888


The COVID-19 pandemic introduced considerable challenges for respiratory protection of different population groups. Disposable medical masks and NIOSH-approved N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) are typically their only defense against the virus. At the same time, continuous wearing of these devices, especially some N95 FFR models cause damage to the facial skin, such as skin irritation, swelling, and scaling. Skin protectants are becoming increasingly popular and effective in providing a protective barrier for the skin that reduces direct contact between a wearer???s face and respirator. Recent pilot studies involving human subjects have examined the effect of skin protectants on the performance of respirators/masks through fit testing, but their findings are heavily impacted by between-subject variability. This investigation deployed a standardized protocol that utilized the NIOSH advanced static manikin headform connected to a Breathing Recording and Simulation System (BRSS), producing a predetermined breathing pattern. The effect of skin protectants on the total inward leakage (TIL) was evaluated for three N95 FFR models, five different skin protectants, and two breathing flow rates. The aerosol particle concentrations inside and outside the respirator were measured with NaCl serving as the challenge aerosol. The TIL was shown to be significantly affected by the interaction of the skin protectant type, breathing flow rate and FFR models. The data suggest that different skin protectants may influence the performance of disposable N95 FFRs in different ways - by either increasing or decreasing the TIL value relative to one with no skin protectants applied. No negative effects on the TIL was observed for either tape- or gel/cream-type protectants when testing with 3M 8210 or 3M 1870+ FFRs;however, the use of skin protectants of either group with the AOSafety 1050 FFR may compromise its performance as quantified by the TIL.