CDC logoSafer Healthier People CDC HomeCDC SearchCDC Health Topics A-Z
NIOSH - National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Skip navigation links Search NIOSH  |  NIOSH Home  |  NIOSH Topics  |  Site Index  |  Databases and Information Resources  |  NIOSH Products  |  Contact Us

Better Respirator Equipment Using Advanced Technologies

for Healthcare Employees (Project BREATHE) - FY10

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

Current Information can be found at: Better Respirator Equipment Using Advanced Technologies for Healthcare Employees (Project BREATHE) - FY11


  • To improve respirator use compliance among healthcare workers (HCW) by developing information products, respirator performance requirements, and advanced technologies for the next generation of HCW respirators that are more comfortable and tolerable.

Diagram of BREATHE concepts

Applicable Standards

  • OSHA standard (29 CFR 1910.134) for respiratory protection.
  • NIOSH 42 CFR 84

Key Partners

  • Veterans Health Administration (VHA)
  • Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC)
  • American Nursing Association (ANA)
  • The Joint Commission (TJC)
  • Respirator Manufacturers (RM)
  • Texas Tech University (TTU)
  • Johns Hopkins University (JHU)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN)
  • Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare (AOHP)


  • None

Project Scope

  • 1: Interagency Project BREATHE Working Group (VHA)
  • 2a: Improving HCW compliance with N95 FFR use (NPPTL, ANA, TJC, APIC, AORN, AOHP)
  • 2b: Comfort /tolerability research & test method development (NPPTL, TTU)
  • 2c: Respirator clinical effectiveness study (VHA, CDC, JHU)
  • 2d: Partnership and prototype development (VHA, RM)
  • 3: Prototype bench (NPPTL) and field trials (VHA)
  • 4: Commercialization / standards development (VHA, RM)


  • Q1 Submit moisture retention paper to Annals of Occupational Hygiene
  • Q2 Provide comments on "the Respiratory Clinical Effectiveness Trial" protocol; develop information products highlighting proper respirator use
  • Q3 Submit test method protocol to HSRB: determine how contact pressure is related to strap tension/location/;orientation and fit
  • Q4 Start data collection for human subject comfort and tolerability test methods; complete validation of fit and comfort models


  • Project BREATHE working group final report
  • Manuscripts submitted to peer-reviewed journal.
  • Presentations at national/international conferences.
  • Battery of human subject based test methods to better predict end-user tolerance and comfort
  • Phase 1: 2008 - 2009
  • Phase 2a: 2010 - 2012
  • Phase 2b: 2010 - 2012
  • Phase 2c: 2010 - 2013
  • Phase 2d: 2010 - 2012
  • Phase 3: 2011 - 2013
  • Phase 4: 2014


  • Manufacturers use the Project BREATHE final report, test methods, and prototype designs to develop HCW-specific respirators that provide increased safety, comfort, tolerability, and wearability
  • Government agencies and standards development organizations use project information to develop guidance documents and recommendations to improve the use of respirators by HCW
  • Future revisions to 42 CFR Part 84 use test methods and performance requirements developed in this project
Page last updated: April 5, 2010
Page last reviewed: April 5, 2010
Content Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory