Protection Factor Test Facility


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The US Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center maintains the Protection Factor (PF) Test Facility. The PF Test Facility is designed to evaluate chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) protective capabilities of respirator systems such as masks and clothing. In order to simulate exposure to chemical agents, volunteers don test items and enter a test chamber containing a polydispersed corn oil aerosol challenge. The corn oil aerosol is between 0.4 and 0.6 micron in diameter and has an air concentration of 20-40 mg/m3. The air inside the protective equipment is sampled for challenge aerosol particles while the subject undergoes a series of exercises intended to evaluate worst-case operational conditions. There is a standard set of exercises used during testing but the customer may specify exercises pending approval by the Human Use Committee. Sampling is accomplished through a length of silicon tubing that is connected from the mask and/or suit to the laser photometers. The protection factor (also known as fit factor) results are graphically displayed real-time on a computer monitor.

The facility comprises an entrance airlock and aerosol exposure chamber that can accommodate up to sixteen volunteers and is designed for flexible protocol setup. Human Performance testing is conducted to ensure comfort, fit, breathing resistance, vision, and communication aptitude of the protective ensemble. Active vapor testing is used if additional testing is needed. Vapor Testing, just as Aerosol Testing provides real-time active sampling. Methyl Salicylate is the primary substance used for vapor testing.

Protection Factor Test Facility Fact Sheet

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