Letters to the Editor: Your N95 mask might be worthless without a proper fit test

Nurse protest
A nurse at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center takes part in a demonstration calling for more protective equipment for healthcare workers on April 16.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: N95 respirator masks are just a dollar’s worth of paper unless you’re fit-tested. (“Suppliers cash in as California taxpayers hit with wildly inflated prices for masks,” April 23)

Fit-testing is a required process in healthcare. Every worker who depends on these respirators for protection must undergo a process that makes sure they fit and protect. This usually involves exposure to a challenge atmosphere, such as a water-based saccharine spray aerosol. If the wearer tastes the sweetness, he or she has failed the fit test.

This not only ensures protection but also keeps people out of harm’s way. Without a good fit, people
might expose themselves to a patient or an infected loved one.

I am a certified industrial hygienist and the former safety director for Kaiser Permanente in Orange County who oversaw thousands of fit-test procedures.


Marc Axelrod, Beverly Hills


To the editor: I was perturbed by your reporting on the state’s acquisition of the N95 masks because its misses what the real problem is.

Yes, California is paying more for masks and is probably subject to price gouging, but why is this happening? The answer is simply that the federal government has failed to establish national control over the acquisition and distribution as well as the production of necessary materials.

By forcing individual states to obtain necessary material on their own, the federal government has in effect promoted unrestrained competition. Moreover, this competition is depleting the financial resources of both state and local governments, thereby worsening the current economic crisis.

This inaction by the federal government means it will take us longer than necessary to return to normal. This could have been avoided if President Trump had shown real leadership instead of making inane statements.

John Liu, Davis, Calif.