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O2 Saturation & Transcutaneous CO2 Level of Pregnant Workers

Using a Filtering Facepiece Respirator or Surgical Mask - FY12

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


  • Three million industrial workers and 14 million healthcare workers use respiratory protective equipment (RPE) either routinely or occasionally. Of this number, a significant proportion are women and, at any given time, a sizeable number are pregnant, yet little is known regarding the impact of RPE upon the pregnant wearer. This study will examine the impact of N95 filtering facepiece respirators (N95 FFR) and surgical masks (SM) on oxygen saturation (O2 Sat) and transcutaneous carbon dioxide (tcPCO2) levels of pregnant workers

Baby on board sign and a Healthcare worker wearing PPE

Applicable Standards

  • OSHA standard (29 CFR 1910.134)

Key Partners

  • None


  • Women healthcare workers medical, dental, veterinary)
  • Women industrial workers
  • Respiratory protection program managers
  • Public health agencies
  • Obstetricians and Nurse Midwives
  • Occupational Medicine physicians

Project Scope

  • Conduct human physiologic testing in the NPPTL physiology lab
  • Determine tcPCO2 levels and O2 Sat of second and third trimester pregnant workers at baseline and while wearing N95FFR and SM
  • Incorporate data from the project into the development of physiologic guidelines for respirator use


  • Q1 Protocol written
  • Q2 Outside peer review completed
  • Q3 Protocol to HSRB for approval
  • Q4 Start data collection


  • Manuscripts published in peer-reviewed journals (0)
  • Presentations at national/international conferences (0)


  • Use of physiological data (tcPCO2 levels, O2 saturation) by NIOSH, CDC, OSHA, FDA, ISO, etc. in the development of guidance criteria for use of protective facemasks during pregnancy
  • Use of project outputs by other researchers investigating personal protective equipment use by pregnant workers
Page last updated: April 17, 2012
Page last reviewed: April 17, 2012
Content Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory