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Respirator Physiologic Impact in Persons With Mild Respiratory Disease

Harber, Philip MD, MPH; Santiago, Silverio MD; Bansal, Siddharth MD; Liu, Yihang MD, MS; Yun, David BS; Wu, Samantha BS

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: February 2010 - Volume 52 - Issue 2 - p 155-162
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181ca0ec9
Original Articles

Objective: To assess whether mild respiratory disease affects physiologic adaptation to respirator use.

Methods: The study compared the respiratory effects of dual cartridge half face mask and filtering facepeice (N95) respirators while performing simulated-work tasks. Subjects with mild chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (n = 14), asthma (n = 42), chronic rhinitis (n = 17), and normal respiratory status (n = 24) were studied. Mixed model regression analyses determined the effects of respirator type, disease status, and the respirator-disease interactions.

Results: Respirator type significantly affected several physiologic measures. Respirator type effects differed among disease categories as shown by statistically significant interaction terms. Respiratory timing parameters were more affected than ventilatory volumes. In general, persons with asthma showed greater respirator-disease interactions than chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, rhinitis, or healthy subjects.

Conclusions: The effects of respirator type differ according to the category of respiratory disease.

From the Occupational and Environmental Medicine Division (Drs Harber, Bansal, Liu, Mr Yun, and Ms Wu), Department of Family Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California at Los Angeles; and Division of Pulmonary Medicine (Dr Santiago), Department of Medicine, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Los Angeles, Calif.

Address correspondence to: Philip Harber, MD, MPH, UCLA Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 10880 Wilshire, #1800, Los Angeles, CA 90024; E-mail:

©2010The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine