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Better Respirator Equipment Using Advanced Technologies for Healthcare Employees (Project BREATHE) – FY09

NOTE: This page is archived for historical purposes and is no longer being maintained or updated.


  • Respirators currently used in the healthcare industry were introduced from other industries and were not specifically designed for healthcare workers (HCW). A number of respirator characteristics may limit the HCW’s performance. This project , a collaborative effort between the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and NPPTL, seeks to determine the ideal characteristics that would be required for a HCW-specific respirator with eventual prototype development/manufacture.
Healthcare workers wearing respirators

Applicable Standards

  • OSHA standard (29 CFR 1910.134) for respiratory protection.

Key Partners

  • Veterans Administration


  • Healthcare workers (medical, dental, etc.)
  • Emergency Medical Services (paramedics, firefighters, private ambulance crews)
  • Respirator manufacturers

Project Scope

  • Phase 1 - Interagency Working Group formation/information exchange
  • Phase 2 - Prototype development
  • Phase 3 - Prototype bench testing (NPPTL) and human field trials (VHA)
  • Phase 4 - Commercialization (approach manufacturers)


  • Q1 Provide feedback from Project Breathe working group meeting (8/6/08 – 8/7/08) notes
  • Q2 Completion of white paper on ideal characteristics of a healthcare worker-specific respirator and submission to a peer-reviewed journal
  • Q4 Solicitation of prototype healthcare worker-specific respirator development from respirator manufacturers, university engineering departments, etc., utilizing design features identified at working group meeting


  • Manuscript (white paper) submitted to peer-reviewed journal.
  • Presentations at national/international conferences.
  • Development of new HCW-specific respirator that will meet NIOSH certification criteria.


  • The HCW-specific respirator should:

    • increase compliance with OSHA regulations
    • increase tolerance for extended wear (e.g., pandemic influenza)
    • decrease respiratory exposure to infectious agents
    • enhance HCW performance
Page last updated: April 05, 2010
Page last reviewed: April 14, 2009
Content Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory