Pulmonary Function Testing (PFT)

MIR Minispir 2 - PC Based SpirometerWhat are Pulmonary Function Tests?

Pulmonary Function Tests is an inclusive term that refers to several different procedures that measure lung function.

Lung function tests (also called Pulmonary Function Tests, or PFTs) check how well your lungs work. The tests determine how much air your lungs can hold, how quickly you can move air in and out of your lungs, and how well your lungs put oxygen into and remove carbon dioxide from your blood.  The tests can diagnose lung diseases, measure the severity of lung problems, and check to see how well treatment for a lung disease is working.

Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs) are noninvasive diagnostic tests that provide measurable feedback about the function of the lungs, by assessing multiple values and rates such as lung volumes, capacities, rates of flow, and gas exchange, PFTs provide information that, when evaluated by your doctor, can help diagnose certain lung disorders or health problems. 


Did you know that OSHA does not require everyone to have a Pulmonary Function Test?  There are certain Standards that do require a PFT, there are several listed below and a full list can be reviewed in the Medical Screening and Surveillance Requirements in OSHA Standards: A Gusers_ide

  • Asbestos (General Industry) 1910.1001(I)
  • Asbestos (Construction and Shipyards) 1910.1001(m); 1915.1001
  • Benzene 1910.1028(i); 1926.1128; 1915.1028 Initially and every 3 years if respiratory protection used 30 days/year; specific tester requirements
  • Cotton Dust 1910.1043(h) 
  • Formaldehyde 1910.1048(l); 1926.1148; 1915.1048*
  • Respiratory Protection 1910.134(e); 1926.103* As determined by physician or other licensed healthcare professional
  • Respirable Crystalline Silica 1926.1153(h)(2)(iv)


Spirometry is the first and most commonly performed lung function test (Pulmonary Function Tests).  Spirometry is a safe procedure and Pulmonary Function Testing is a noninvasive procedure which is safe for most individuals.  It is quick and the individual only needs to be able to follow clear and simple directions. 

Our PFT involves the use of a Spirometer.  The Spirometer is an instrument that measures the amount of air breathed in and/or out or your lungs and how quickly the air is inhaled and expelled from the lungs while breathing through a mouthpiece.  The measurements are recorded on a digital recording device called a spirograph and the information collected by the spirometer may be printed out on a chart called a spirogram.

Complications of PFTs may include the following: 

  • Faintness
  • Dizzyness
  • Coughing
  • Light-headedness due to hyperventilation 
  • Asthmatic episode precipitated by deep inhalation exercises


PFT OSHA Letter of Interpretation June 17, 1993
Spirometry Testing in Occupational Health Programs
Medical Screening and Surveillance Requirements in OSHA Standards: A Gusers_ide


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