Researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health provide the science needed to inform difficult decisions on respiratory protections.

For example, they recently tested the effectiveness of air-purifying respirators equipped with chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear canisters to ensure that first responders are protected in emergencies.

NIOSH’s recent Respiratory Protection Week honors those researchers—and all workers who rely on respiratory protection to keep them safe.

The event was held in September in recognition of NIOSH’s dedication to using the best scientific approach to determine proper respiratory protection practices, innovative respirator designs, and making respiratory protection available to all workers who require it.

This year marks 101 years since the first respirator approval and the advent of scientific research into respiratory protection to keep workers safe.

Although NIOSH typically makes 400 annual respirator approval decisions, 2020 has been busier.

As of Sept. 1, the agency made 574 respirator approval decisions—468 granted and 106 denied.

This includes 64 filtering facepiece respirators and 52 powered air purifying respirators just being brought to market.

Unique Respirators

In addition, NIOSH approved 681 new configurations of elastomeric air purifying respirators with N95 minimum particulate protections.

NIOSH assessed unique respirators, responding to the increased need for respiratory protection during COVID-19.

Among these are respirators beyond their shelf life or stockpiled, respirators assessed for their ability to remain compliant after decontamination processes, and respirators entering the U.S. from countries that claim to meet a non-NIOSH standard.

NIOSH pivoted its research portfolio to address questions of high national importance associated with COVID-19.

For example, the use of respirators with exhalation valves was not something NIOSH considered before COVID.

“We know these respirators provide the proper respiratory protection, but now we are challenged with questions regarding their applicability as source control devices,” the agency said.

“Our researchers are working hard to answer these questions and many more.”

 Learn more about NIOSH’s respiratory protection work here.

For more information, contact CBIA’s Phillip Montgomery (860.244.1982).