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Particle Count Statistics Applied to the Penetration of a Filter Challenged with Nanoparticles
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    Statistical confidence in a single measure of filter penetration (P) is dependent on the low number of particle counts made downstream of the filter. This paper discusses methods for determining an upper confidence limit (UCL) for a single measure of penetration. The magnitude of the UCL was then compared to the P value, UCL ≤ 2P, as a penetration acceptance criterion (PAC). This statistical method was applied to penetration trials involving an N95 filtering facepiece respirator challenged with sodium chloride and four engineered nanoparticles: titanium dioxide, iron oxide, silicon dioxide and single-walled carbon nanotubes. Ten trials were performed for each particle type with the aim of determining the most penetrating particle size (MPPS) and the maximum penetration, Pmax. The PAC was applied to the size channel containing the MPPS. With those P values that met the PAC for a given set of trials, an average Pmax and MPPS was computed together with corresponding standard deviations. Because the size distribution of the silicon dioxide aerosol was shifted towards larger particles relative to the MPPS, none of the ten trials satisfied the PAC for that aerosol. The remaining four particle types resulted in at least 4 trials meeting the criterion. MPPS values ranged from 35 - 53 nm with average Pmax values varying from 4.0% for titanium dioxide to 7.0% for iron oxide. The use of the penetration acceptance criterion is suggested for determining the reliability of penetration measurements obtained to determine filter Pmax and MPPS.

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