Comparing mask fit and usability of traditional and nanofibre N95 filtering facepiece respirators before and after nursing procedures

L. K.P. Suen, S. C. Lam, Yueping Guo, Suk Ki Ho, Cypher H. Au-Yeung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The reliability of N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) depends on correct fitting. The perceived usability of FFRs is equally important because discomfort during usage may affect compliance. Body movements during nursing procedures may also increase the risk of face seal leakage. Aim: To evaluate the mask fit and usability of the best-fitting 3M N95 FFR and the nanofibre N95 FFR before and after nursing procedures. The physical properties of these FFRs were also examined. Methods: This experimental study had a one-group multiple comparison design. In total, 104 nursing students participated, and performed nursing procedures for 10 min when wearing the best-fitting 3M FFR and the nanofibre FFR. Mask fit and perceived usability of the FFRs were evaluated. Findings: More participants failed to obtain a fit factor ≥100 when using the best-fitting 3M FFR than when wearing the nanofibre FFR (33.7% vs 21.2%) after the procedures (P=0.417). The nanofibre FFR also demonstrated higher usability than the 3M FFRs in terms of facial heat, breathability, facial pressure, speech intelligibility, itchiness, difficulty of maintaining the mask in place, and comfort level (P<0.001). The nanofibre FFR was also lighter, thinner and had slightly higher bacterial filtration efficiency than the 3M FFRs. Conclusion: The nanofibre FFR demonstrated significantly better usability than the 3M FFRs. None of the respirators were able to provide consistent protection for the wearer, as detected by face seal leakage after performing nursing procedures. Further improvement in the prototype design is needed to increase compliance and ensure the respiratory protection of users.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-343
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Mask fit
  • N95 filtering facepiece respirators
  • Nanofibre technology
  • Nursing
  • Physical properties
  • Usability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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