Services / Lung Health Testing Services

Pulmonary Function Testing

Pulmonary Function Testing provides important information on the lung health of workers who are exposed to airborne particulates in the workplace.

Different Test Types

Spirometry is the most common type of pulmonary function testing. Spirometry testing is used to measure how fast an individual can move air in and out of their lungs and determines whether that person’s lung capacity falls within a normal range based on their age, weight, gender, race, and history of smoking.

Spirometry is based on maximal forced exhalation. In simpler terms, it measures the most air that can be exhaled after the subject's largest possible breath has been taken. It differs from peak flow readings as spirometry records the entire forced breathing capacity against time, and peak flow records the largest breathing flow that can be sustained for 10 milliseconds. The resulting figure (Forced Vital Capacity divided by Forced Expiratory Volume) will determine whether the employee's lung function is normal or abnormal.

SureHire recommends that companies where workers are exposed to airborne particulates implement an annual lung health program which consists of spirometry, chest x-rays, a fitness-to-wear respirator questionnaire, and mask fit testing. This program will allow the employer to manage airborne hazards and promote early identification and intervention. Employers that implement a pre-employment lung health program are able to independently record baseline values of workers with pre-existing conditions. Annual monitoring can be compared against this baseline to determine whether any changes to the worker's lung health have taken place. Please contact a SureHire representative to discuss what programs are available and how they can be tailored to your company's unique needs.

Understanding the Results

Spirometry records the entire forced breathing capacity against time. The resulting figure will reveal whether the employee's lung function is normal or abnormal. If results are below acceptable percentages and the QC grade is deemed a D or F, results are considered abnormal and may indicate a lung or breathing problem.

The accuracy of spirometry results are highly dependent on the worker's understanding, cooperation, and best efforts. Anyone with abnormal results should follow up with a physician or pulmonologist for further testing. Since it is not a diagnostic test, the reasons for why results are abnormal can not be identified.

Many workplace substances can cause breathing problems or lung damage. For example:

  • Dust from wood, cotton, coal, asbestos, silica, talc, cereal grains, coffee, pesticides, drug or enzyme powders, metals, and fibreglass.
  • Fumes from metals that are heated and cooled quickly. These fumes occur in welding, smelting, furnace work, pottery making, plastics manufacturing, and rubber operations.
  • Smoke from burning organic materials. For instance, firefighters are at an increased risk of lung damage from smoke.
  • Gases such as formaldehyde, ammonia, chlorine, sulfur dioxide, ozone and nitrogen oxides. These gases occur in welding, brazing, smelting, oven drying, and furnace work.
  • Vapors, which are a form of gas given off by all liquids.
  • Mists or sprays from paints, lacquers (such as varnish), hair spray, pesticides, cleaning products, acids, oils, and solvents (such as turpentine).

Workers exposed to these substances should submit to annual spirometry testing in order to monitor their lung health. The results of annual check-ups can be compared against previous results to identify any changes to the worker's lung health so that airborne hazards can be effectively managed and actions to avoid further lung damage can take place.

When can I test?

It is the responsibility of the employer to help protect worker lung health and to inform employees of the hazards they may be exposed to at work.

“Where a worker suffers chest disease due in part to occupational and in part to non-occupational factors, the overall disability will be presumed to be related to the employment and compensation awarded accordingly.” – Alberta Worker Compensation Boards’s Permanent Clinical Impairment Guide

Pulmonary Function Testing can be an essential tool for the early detection of any breathing problems and the identification and management of airborne hazards.

Booking

Booking an alcohol test is simple. Get in touch with us:

Our Contact Centre Agents can assist you with finding the most convenient location within our extensive Canada-Wide network of facilties.

Turnaround

Results are provided to the employer on the same business day.

FAQs

WHAT IS A SPIROMETRY TEST?

A spirometry test is a component of a pulmonary function test. A spirometer is used to measure how much air the lungs can hold and how well the respiratory system is able to move air into and out of the lungs.

Spirometry differs from peak flow, as spirometry records the entire forced breathing capacity against time, whereas peak flow records the largest breathing flow that can be sustained for 10 milliseconds.

Factors related to spirometry testing include sex, height, weight, ethnicity, race, age, history of smoking, and whether the person suffers from asthma or other respiratory conditions.

WHAT HAPPENS IF RESULTS ARE ABNORMAL?

Anyone with abnormal results should follow up with a physician or pulmonologist for further testing. Spirometry is a screening test that identifies if lung function is normal or abnormal. However, it is not a diagnostic test and reasons for why results are abnormal can not be identified by this test.

Since spirometry is based on a maximal forced exhalation, the accuracy of its results are highly dependent on the subject’s understanding, cooperation, and best efforts during the test.

SHOULD EMPLOYEES WHO HAVE HAD A COLD RECENTLY STILL COMPLETE THE TESTING?

If an employee has had pneumonia, bronchitis, influenza or a severe cold in the past three weeks, testing should be postponed for a later day. Please contact SureHire's bookings department to reschedule.

ARE THERE RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH DOING THIS TYPE OF TEST?

Spirometry is a very low-risk test. However, blowing air out of the lungs with great force can increase the pressure in the chest, abdomen, and eyes. Employees may be advised not to have spirometry testing if they:

  • Have unstable angina
  • Have had a recent pneumothorax (air trapped between the outside of the lung and the chest wall, often incorrectly called a punctured lung)
  • Have had a recent heart attack or stroke
  • Have had recent eye or abdominal surgery
  • Have coughed up blood recently and the cause is not known

WHAT IS BEING MEASURED?

Spirometry measures lung function through different breathing measurements. The most common measurements include:

Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) – The largest amount of air that can be blown out after taking the biggest possible breath in.

Forced Expiratory Volume (FEV1) – The amount of air that can be blown out of the lungs in the first second.

FEV1/FVC – The amount of air that can be forced out of the lungs in the first second compared to the total lung volume. The resulting percentage determines whether lung function is normal or abnormal.

Many workplace substances can cause breathing problems or lung damage. These may include:

  • Dust from wood, cotton, coal, asbestos, silica, talc, grains, coffee, pesticides, drug or enzyme powders, metals, and fiberglass;
  • Fumes from metals that are heated and cooled quickly. These fumes occur in welding, smelting, furnace work, pottery making, plastics manufacturing, and rubber operations;
  • Smoke from burning organic materials. For instance, firefighters are at an increased risk of lung damage from smoke;
  • Gases such as formaldehyde, ammonia, chlorine, sulfur dioxide, ozone and nitrogen oxides. These gases occur in welding, brazing, smelting, oven drying, and furnace work;
  • Vapors, which are a form of gas given off by all liquids; and/or
  • Mists or sprays from paints, lacquers/varnish, hair spray, pesticides, cleaning products, acids, oils, and solvents (such as turpentine).

If you are exposed to damaging substances as part of your employment, annual spirometry testing is an important method for monitoring the health of your lungs. Early detection of any breathing issue is essential for protecting the quality and length of your life.

What to Expect

Upon entering the facility, you will first be required to present some form of government-issued photo identification when you come in for your appointment. If you are coming in for a private appointment, payment must be made via credit card while booking your appointment over the phone. You may also have the option to pay via credit card at any Power Centre facility in Alberta only.

Once your ID is verified, you will receive paperwork to fill out. This paperwork includes an authorization allowing SureHire to perform the test and provide the results to your employer/potential employer. If you are coming in for a private test, the form will have a spot where you can indicate where you would like the results to be sent. You will also have a short form to fill out indicating your contact information and any prescription or over the counter drugs that you are currently using.

Once your paperwork is submitted, you must not leave the testing facility until testing is complete. If you choose to leave the testing facility, it will be indicated as a refusal to test and considered a fail.

The tester assisting you will demonstrate what you will need to do, which will involve taking in the biggest breath you can and breathing out the most air possible. It is important to have a good understanding of what you need to do and to try your best in order to get the most accurate results. The test will be performed while you are in a standing position, with a chair placed behind you in case you become light-headed. A minimum of three maneuvers must be performed for comparative purposes. Once the test has be performed and at least two acceptable maneuvers have occurred, you will be finished.

If results are below acceptable percentages and QC grade is D or F, SureHire will perform another test maneuver. The maximum number of maneuvers that can be safely performed is five. If you have a chest cold, asthma, or difficulty achieving an A, B or C reading after at least 5 complete trials, testing will be stopped.

How to Prepare

  • Bring your government-issued photo ID (driver’s license, passport, military ID, etc.)
  • Do not smoke for at least one hour prior to your test
  • Do not drink alcohol for at least four hours prior to your test
  • Do not eat a large meal within two hours of your test
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing
  • Do not perform vigorous exercise within 30 minutes of your test
  • If you are on inhaler/puffer medications, you may be asked to refrain from taking them for a few hours before your spirometry testing. Please check with your doctor or contact the testing centre prior to your scheduled appointment.

Know Your Rights

It is the duty of your employer to help protect your health and to inform you of the hazards you may be exposed to at work. Pulmonary Function Testing can be a crucial tool for the early detection of any breathing problems so that steps can be taken to preserve the safety of your lungs.

Spirometry is a very low-risk test. However, blowing air out of your lungs with great force can increase the pressure in your chest, abdomen, and eyes. You may be advised not to have spirometry testing if you:

  • Have unstable angina
  • Have had a recent pneumothorax (air trapped between the outside of the lung and the chest wall, often incorrectly called a punctured lung)
  • Have had a recent heart attack or stroke
  • Have had recent eye or abdominal surgery
  • Have coughed up blood recently and the cause is not known

If you have had pneumonia, bronchitis, influenza or a severe cold in the past three weeks, you should postpone testing for a later day. Contact the bookings department to reschedule testing.

Spirometry screening will identify whether your lung function is normal or abnormal. Since it is not a diagnostic test, the reasons for why your results are abnormal can not be identified. Anyone with abnormal results should follow up with a physician or pulmonologist for further testing.

FAQs

WHAT IS A SPIROMETRY TEST?

A spirometry test is a component of a pulmonary function test. A spirometer is used to measure how much air the lungs can hold and how well the respiratory system is able to move air into and out of the lungs.

Spirometry differs from peak flow, as spirometry records the entire forced breathing capacity against time, whereas peak flow records the largest breathing flow that can be sustained for 10 milliseconds.

Factors related to spirometry testing include sex, height, weight, ethnicity, race, age, history of smoking, and whether the person suffers from asthma or other respiratory conditions.

Since spirometry is based on a maximal forced exhalation, the accuracy of its results are highly dependent on the subject’s understanding, cooperation, and best efforts. It is important to ask any questions you may have about the testing and to try your best to take the biggest possible breaths and exhale the most air you can.

WHAT HAPPENS IF MY RESULTS ARE ABNORMAL?

If results are below acceptable percentages and the QC grade is deemed a D or F, results are considered abnormal and may indicate a lung or breathing problem that could make it unsafe to work. Anyone with abnormal results should follow up with a physician or pulmonologist for further testing. Spirometry is a screening test that identifies if your lung function is normal or abnormal. Since it is not a diagnostic test, the reasons for why your results are abnormal can not be identified.

I HAVE HAD A COLD RECENTLY, SHOULD I STILL COMPLETE THE TESTING?

If you have had pneumonia, bronchitis, influenza or a severe cold in the past three weeks, you should postpone testing for a later day. Please contact SureHire's bookings department to reschedule testing.

ARE THERE RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH DOING THIS TYPE OF TEST?

Spirometry is a very low-risk test. However, blowing air out of your lungs with great force can increase the pressure in your chest, abdomen, and eyes. You may be advised not to have spirometry testing if you:

  • Have unstable angina
  • Have had a recent pneumothorax (air trapped between the outside of the lung and the chest wall, often incorrectly called a punctured lung)
  • Have had a recent heart attack or stroke
  • Have had recent eye or abdominal surgery
  • Have coughed up blood recently and the cause is not known

WHAT IS BEING MEASURED?

Spirometry measures your lung function through different breathing measurements. The most common measurements include:

Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) – The largest amount of air that you can blow out after you take your biggest breath in.

Forced Expiratory Volume (FEV1) – The amount of air you can blow out of your lungs in the first second.

FEV1/FVC – The amount of air you can force out of your lungs in the first second compared to your total lung volume.

WILL SOMEBODY BE EXPLAINING THE RESULTS OF MY SPIROMETRY TEST?

The results of spirometry testing are scored as an A, B, C, D or E, which identifies whether lung function is normal (A, B, or C) or abnormal (D or E). Since spirometry is a screening test, the reasons for any abnormal results can not be identified. Anyone with abnormal results (D or E) should follow up with a physician or pulmonologist for further testing.

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