This article was originally published here
Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2021 Apr 30:1-16. doi: 10.1017/dmp.2021.133. Online ahead of print.
Objective: Bottlenecks in the personal protective equipment (PPE) supply chain have contributed to shortages of PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in fractures in the functionality of healthcare systems. This study was conducted with the aim of determining the effectiveness of retrofitted commercial snorkel masks as an alternative respirator for healthcare workers during infectious disease outbreaks.Methods: A retrospective analysis was performed, analyzing qualitative and quantitative fit test results of the retrofitted Aria Ocean Reef® full-face snorkeling mask on healthcare workers at the McGill University Health Centre between April-June 2020. Historical fit test results, using medical-grade respirators, for healthcare workers were also analyzed.Results: During the study period, 71 participants volunteered for fit testing, 60.6% of which were nurses. The overall fit test passing rate using the snorkel mask was 83.1%. Of the participants who did not previously pass fit testing with medical-grade respirators, 80% achieved a passing fit test with the snorkel respirator.Conclusions: The results suggest that this novel respirator may be an effective and feasible alternative solution to address PPE shortages, while still providing healthcare workers with ample protection. Additional robust testing will be required to ensure that respirator fit is maintained, after numerous rounds of disinfection.