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Better Respirator Equipment Using Advanced Technologies

for Healthcare Employees (Project BREATHE) - FY11

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


  • 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
  • ISO/ANSI TC94/SC15/WG1/PG5

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) 2008-2009
  • 2a: Improving HCW compliance with N95 FFR use (NPPTL) 2010 - 2011
  • 2b: Comfort /tolerability research & test method development (NPPTL) 2010 - 2012
  • 2c:Respiratory Protection Effectiveness Clinical Trial (ResPECT) (JHU,VHA) 2010 - 2013
  • 2d: Partnership and prototype development (VHA, RM) 2010 - 2012
  • 3: Prototype bench (NPPTL) and field trials (VHA) 2011 - 2013
  • 4: Commercialization / standards development (VHA, RM) 2014


  • Q1 ResPECT (pilot) and Comfort/tolerability studies approved by HSRB
  • Q2 ResPECT (pilot) and Comfort/tolerability studies initiate data collection
  • Q3 ResPECT (pilot) and Comfort/tolerability studies complete data collection; VHA signs CRADAs with two respirator manufacturers
  • Q4 ResPECT team finalizes VHA sites for full-study and completes scientific peer-review. Texas Tech issues final report to NPPTL on modeling work; submit abstract on strap tension data and modeled forces to AIHCE


  • Project BREATHE working group final report
  • Texas Tech final report (expected 9/30/11)
  • Manuscripts published in peer-reviewed journal (3 published, 1 more accepted, and several more in development)
  • Presentations at national/international conferences & stakeholder meetings (7)


  • 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
  • Other researchers utilize project findings to conduct further research on compliance, comfort, or tolerability of respirators
Page last updated: August 15, 2011
Page last reviewed: August 15, 2011
Content Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory