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NPPTL  - The National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory

NIOSH Safety and Health Topic:



Respirators protect the user in two basic ways. The first is by the removal of contaminants from the air. Respirators of this type include particulate respirators, which filter out airborne particles; and "gas masks” which filter out chemicals and gases. Other respirators protect by supplying clean respirable air from another source. Respirators that fall into this category include airline respirators, which use compressed air from a remote source; and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), which include their own air supply.

Respirators should only be used as a "last line of defense" when engineering control systems are not feasible. Engineering control systems, such as adequate ventilation or scrubbing of contaminants should be used to negate the need for respirators.

NIOSH issues recommendations for respirator use. Industrial type approvals are in accordance to the NIOSH federal respiratory regulations 42 CFR Part 84. Development of respirator standards are in concert with various partners from government and industry.

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NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2005-149
Exposure limits, Respirator Recommendations, First Aid, more...
The Pocket Guide is a source of general industrial hygiene information on several hundred chemicals/classes found in the work environment. Key data provided for each chemical/substance includes name (including synonyms/trade names), structure/formula, CAS/RTECS Numbers, DOT ID, conversion factors, exposure limits, IDLH, chemical and physical properties, measurement methods, personal protection, respirator recommendations, symptoms, and first aid.

NIOSH Respirator Selection Logic 2004
DHHS (NIOSH) Pub. No. 2005-100
Provides a process that respirator program administrators can use to select appropriate respirators to protect workers in specific workplaces. Replaces the NIOSH Respirator Decision Logic (NIOSH Publication No. 87-108), and includes information on N-95 through P-100 particulate respirators.

Fact Sheet: What You Should Know In Deciding Whether to Buy Escape Hoods, Gas Masks, or Other Respirators for Preparedness at Home and Work
Provides information on what respirators are, how they work, and what is needed for a respirator to provide adequate protection.

Respirator Usage in Private Sector Firms, 2001
NIOSH and U.S. DOL BLS Publication
NIOSH and the Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted a voluntary survey of U.S. employers regarding the use of respirators. The findings are intended to provide information to develop interventions and to increase the frequency and effectiveness of respirator use in the workplace.

NIOSH-Approved Disposable Particulate Respirators (Filtering Facepieces)
Provides a listing of NIOSH-approved disposable particulate respirators that health care workers can use to help protect themselves from diseases potentially spread through the air, such as SARS or Tuberculosis.

Understanding Respiratory Protection Against SARS
Q & A about respirators and SARS, including what types of respiratory protection should be used by health care workers and others to protect against SARS.

Respirators: Your TB Defense / TB Respiratory Protection: Administrator's Review
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2002-114d. DVD.
Includes the programs 'Respirators: Your TB Defense', 'TB Respiratory Protection: Administrator's Review', and written materials in electronic format.

TB Respiratory Protection Program in Health Care Facilities
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 99-143.
This manual is designed to serve as a practical guide for those individuals responsible for initiating and running a TB respiratory protection program in health care facilities.

Medical Aspects of Wearing Respirators
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 91-119
PDF only 1.61 MB (28 pages)
Appendix H — Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Ethylene Glycol Monomethyl Ether, Ethylene Glycol Monoethyl Ether, and Their Acetates.

NIOSH Guide to Industrial Respiratory Protection
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 87-116
Covers types of Respirators, guidance for selection and use, user notices, more....

NIOSH Guide to the Selection and Use of Particulate Respirators Certified Under 42 CFR 84
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 96-101
Explains the federal regulation for certifying air-purifying particulate respirators [42 CFR Part 84] and provides valuable information for selecting and using respirators certified by NIOSH.

NIOSH Federal Respiratory Regulations 42 CFR Part 84
External Link:

NIOSH Respirator Decision Logic (1987)
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 87-108
Includes criteria for selection, restrictions and requirements, decision logic sequence, more...

Cleaning and Maintenance

Suggested Respirator Cleaning and Sanitation Procedures
Guidance for selecting cleaning equipment and supplies, procedures for respirator maintenance.

Fact Sheet for Workers in Secondary Response and Other Supporting Roles
FAQs About Exposure to Dusts and Gases.


Certified Equipment List
The Certified Equipment List (CEL) is a database of all certified respirators and coal mine dust personal sampler units.

NIOSH Approved Respirators
NIOSH is testing and certifying Self-contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) and Air Purifying Respirators (APR) for use by emergency responders in chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) environments. These pages list all currently certified models.

Statement of Standard for CBRN Full Facepiece Air Purifying Respirators for Use by Emergency Responders in Terrorist Attacks
Includes Statement of Standard, Inspection and Certification Fees, Cautions and Limitations, Guidelines for Identification of Test Configurations, more...

Criteria for Certifying Air-Purifying Escape Respirators and Self-Contained Escape Respirators for Use Against CBRN Agents
This letter informs manufacturers of voluntary requirements that air-purifying escape respirators and self-contained escape respirators must meet in order to obtain NIOSH approval. It also provides the procedures for the submission of applications for these approvals.

Statement of Standard and Approval Criteria — SCBAs for Emergency Response Workers in Terrorist Attacks
Statement of standard, testing procedures, info for respirator manufacturers.

Certification Program Support for Respirator Manufacturers
Centralized support services for respirator manufacturers. Includes lists of certification projects that are currently being processed, applications, application procedures, logos, more...

Standards and Rulemaking

CBRN Respirator Standards Development Efforts
Ongoing efforts to develop standards and test procedures for all classes of respirators that will provide respiratory protection against Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear inhalation hazards. Includes Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR), Escape Respirators, Full Facepiece APRs, and Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA).

Standards Development Efforts for Respiratory Devices Used to Protect Workers in Hazardous Environments
Ongoing efforts to develop standards and test procedures for all classes of respirators used to protect workers in hazardous environments. Includes Close-circuit Self-contained Self Rescuers (SCSR), multifunction Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR), Total Inward Leakage (TIL) Concepts, and concepts for the Quality Assurance Module.

Full Text (PDF Only): Respiratory Protective Devices, 42 CFR Part 84
External Link:
Includes the test requirements that a filter and respirator must meet for NIOSH to grant an approval to a manufacturer.

Technical Summary: Respiratory Protective Devices, 42 CFR Part 84

User Notices

NIOSH Respirator User Notices

Other Resources

OSHA Web site:

Respiratory Protection
External Link:

Respiratory Protection Standards — Training and Reference Materials
External Link:

Deaths Involving the Inadvertent Connection of Air-line Respirators to Inert Gas Supplies
This Safety and Health Information Bulletin contains information about fatalities that have occurred due to the inadvertent connection of air-line respirators to inert gas supplies.
External Link:




images of workers with respiratory protection

Page last updated: July 12, 2004
Page last reviewed: January 05, 2007
Content Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)