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Research Letter
January 7, 2009

Respirator Tolerance in Health Care Workers

JAMA. 2009;301(1):36-38. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.894

To the Editor: Anticipated respirator intolerance and supply shortages during future influenza pandemics prompted the Institute of Medicine to review respirator use in health care workers1 and consider whether disposable models could be reused or modified for reuse.2 One option involves placing a medical mask over a disposable respirator to diminish contamination and attrition.1 However, little is known about the workplace tolerability of respirators commonly worn by health care workers, who may be called on to wear respiratory protection for the duration of their work shifts for several consecutive weeks during a pandemic.3,4 We estimated the length of time health care workers would tolerate wearing commonly used respirators while performing their typical occupational duties.