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Pulmonary Function Testing (Spirometry)

The results of the pulmonary function test assist a medical professional in determining a candidate's ability to safely wear a respirator on the job.  Pulmonary Function Testing (PFT) is carried out to comply with OSHA's respiratory protection (CFR 1910.134) and respiratory surveillance (CFR 1910.1043) and other standards.  PFTs measure several values, two of which are essential. Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) is the total volume of air you can blow out of your lungs.  Forced Expiratory Volume (FEV1) is the volume of air you can blow out in one second. A third measurement, Forced Expiratory Flow (FEF 25%-75%) is a measure of the amount of air you can blow out during the center portion of the exhalation.  It is a more sensitive measure of early airway disease than is the FEV1.  A patient's PFT results are compared to calculated normal values corresponding to his/her age, height, and sex.

Both the National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health (NIOSH) policy and the new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation are in fundamental agreement that the primary means to prevent occupational diseases caused by breathing contaminated air is through the use of feasible engineering controls such as enclosures, confinement of operations, ventilation, or substitution with less toxic materials.  Only when effective engineering controls are not feasible, or while they are being installed or maintained, should respirators be utilized as the primary means of worker protection.