When worn properly, certified N95 respirators reduce the risk of inhaling hazardous airborne particles and aerosols. The N95 designation means that, when subjected to careful testing, the respirator blocks at least 95% of very small test particles that are representative of pathogens.
The importance of testing
As part of the National Research Council of Canada's (NRC) COVID-19 response, the Metrology Research Centre is developing unique-in-Canada capability to test the performance (i.e., particulate filter efficiency level) of N95 respirators and respirator material, according to the TEB-APR-STP-0059 (PDF) test standard.
This testing is important to determine whether N95 respirators meet the mandatory performance standards to protect the wearer, and assess how new materials and manufacturing processes perform so manufacturers can produce safe, effective N95 respirators in Canada.
Developing N95 testing capability in Canada
The Metrology Research Centre is engaged in a number of areas to develop the capacity and expertise necessary to test N95 respirators and respirator material in Canada:
- Direct testing: We perform testing for federal government partners and in support of COVID-19 challenge programs at NRC facilities in Ottawa
- Capacity building: We are working with partners in industry and government to help modify existing testing infrastructure and expertise to meet the test standard
- Information sharing: We facilitate connections between organizations requiring testing and qualified testing facilities across Canada
- Long-term support: We will continue working with regulators, industry, organizations, and other stakeholders within Canada's national quality infrastructure to distribute and solidify N95 respirator testing nationwide
Accessing this testing service
Due to the urgent need for N95 respirators for front-line workers, the NRC's N95 respirator testing service is strictly accessible at this time to the NRC's COVID-19 response programs only. The Metrology Research Centre is working to expand its testing capacity to meet more demand, and will advise how to access these services as they become available.
We are also supporting our partners with an interest in developing this testing capability by providing advisory services, expertise, and—once available—our standard test apparatus. To speak to an expert about developing N95 testing capability at your organization, please contact us at PPE-EPI@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca.