Respirator Trusted-Source Information
Section 2: Use of NIOSH-Approved Respirators
Information sources on how to implement the appropriate use of respirators in the workplace. This section also contains a listing of recently revoked approvals as well as related User Notices.
ADVISORY: Watch for respirators misrepresented as NIOSH-approved! See the misrepresentation section.
OSHA Respirator Safety Video (click on link and scroll down page to training)
Respirator Safety. Donning (Putting on) and Doffing (Taking off) and User Seal Checks. U.S. Department of Labor Video, (2009, December 16). This video is available in English and Spanish and is available for downloading.
Respirator Awareness: Your Health May Depend On It
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2013-138 (June 2013) Español
One of the occupational hazards in the healthcare setting is the airborne transmission of certain infectious diseases. The potential of exposure is not limited to physicians, nurses, and support personnel in direct patient care. It extends to those delivering food, cleaning patient rooms, and performing maintenance. Anyone working in areas with patients infected with airborne-transmissible diseases is potentially at risk.
There have been reports of products using promotional materials that infer or cite NIOSH approval. Some of these products may look very similar to NIOSH-approved respirators. One example is a product that has taken N95 respirators and added decorative fabric for fashionable effects, therefore voiding the approval (http://www.flufashion.net). Another example is a surgical mask being advertised as a NIOSH-approved N95 respirator. NIOSH purchased the product, tested it and found it to have over 80% leakage. Several instances of packaging that falsely uses terms like “NIOSH approved”, and “NIOSH N95” have been brought to our attention. Though it is often difficult to be able to tell from first glance if a respirator is truly NIOSH certified, the most reliable marking to look for is the NIOSH TC# printed both on the box as well as the product itself (TC# xxx-xxxx). The product can be verified by checking the TC number on the NIOSH website.
Example of typical markings on filtering facepiece respirators.
Figures 1 and 2:
The earloop masks below have been advertised as N95 NIOSH-approved on eBay and elsewhere on the internet. NIOSH does not approve surgical masks, only respirators. The masks pictured below are not NIOSH-approved.
Figures 3 and 4:
Figures 5 and 6:
The box for this product indicates NIOSH approval. However, NIOSH does not approve surgical masks.
Periodically, respirator approvals are revoked either at the request of the approval holder, or revoked by NIOSH for cause. Depending upon the reason for the revocation, a respirator User Notice may be issued. With all revocations, the approval number is no longer listed in the Certified Equipment List (CEL), or on any of the NIOSH web pages that list approved respirators. View a list of NIOSH approval numbers revoked since 2013. View user notices issued prior to 2011.
The validity of a respirator approval should be verified on NIOSH Certified Equipment List.
Related User Notices
Respirator User Notices are issued on a variety of topics related to NIOSH-approved respirators. The notices listed immediately below contain information that may help the user understand important issues related to respirator approval.
January 16, 2009 - NIOSH Respirator Certification [PDF - 81.1 KB]
March 17, 2006 - Respirator User Notice, Meaning of NIOSH Approval [PDF - 28 KB]
Particulate Respirator User Notices
The notices listed below pertain to topics related to particulate respirators:
December 04, 2008 - NIOSH has Revoked Jiangsu Teyin Nonwoven Fabrics CO., Ltd. - JTN's Approval Numbers TC-84A-4404 and TC-84A-4405. This approval was for the MVP-TR1 and MVP-TR2 N95 Filtering Facepieces [PDF - 24.9 KB]
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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- Contact CDC-INFO