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Guidance for filtration and air-cleaning systems to protect building environments from airborne chemical, biological, or radiological attacks.

Earnest GS; Gressel MG; Mickelsen RL; Moyer ES; Reed LD; Karwacki CJ; Morrison RW; Tevault DE; Delp W; Persily AK
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2003-136, 2003 Apr; :1-62
This document discusses air-filtration and air-cleaning issues associated with protecting building environments from an airborne chemical, biological, or radiological (CBR) attack. It provides information about issues that should be considered when assessing, installing, and upgrading filtration systems-along with the types of threats that can be addressed by air-filtration and air-cleaning systems. It is intended to provide guidance regarding measures that may be taken to prepare for a potential CBR attack, rather than in response to an actual CBR event. The complex issues regarding response and cleanup in the aftermath of an actual CBR event are situation dependent and are beyond the scope of this guidance document. This is a companion document to the previously released NIOSH document titled Guidance for Protecting Building Environments from Airborne Chemical, Biological, or Radiological Attacks. That document provided a broad array of recommendations for protecting buildings, including physical security, heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system operation, maintenance and training, and filtration. This document gives specific and detailed guidance for one area of concern - filtration and air cleaning. The intended audience includes those who are responsible for making the technical decisions to improve filtration in public, private, and governmental buildings, such as offices, retail facilities, schools, transportation terminals, and public venues (for example, sports arenas, malls, coliseums). While many aspects of this document may apply to residential buildings, it is not intended to address filtration questions pertinent to housing because of their different function, design, construction, and operational characteristics. Likewise, certain types of higher risk or special use facilities - such as industrial facilities, military facilities, selected laboratories, and hospital isolation areas - require special considerations that are beyond the scope of this guide. The likelihood of a specific building being targeted for terrorist activity is difficult to predict. As such, there is no specific formula that will determine a certain building's level of risk. You who own or manage buildings should seek appropriate assistance as described in this document to decide how to reduce your building's risk from a CBR attack and how to mitigate the effects if such an attack should occur. References on conducting a threat assessment can be found at the end of the NIOSH document Guidance for Protecting Building Environments from Airborne Chemical, Biological, or Radiological Attacks. After assessing your building's risk, you may wish to consider ways to enhance your filtration system. This document will help you make informed decisions about selecting, installing, and maintaining enhanced air-filtration and air-cleaning systems - important options in providing building protection from a CBR attack. The given recommendations are not intended to be minimum requirements that should be implemented for every building. Rather, they will guide your decision-making effort about the appropriate protective measures to implement in your building. The decision to enhance filtration in a specific building should be based on the perceived risk associated with that building and its tenants, its engineering and architectural applicability and feasibility, and the cost. While no building can be fully protected from a determined group or individual intent on releasing a CBR agent, effective air filtration and air cleaning can help to limit the number and extent of injuries or fatalities and make subsequent decontamination efforts easier.
Ventilation-systems; Ventilation; Biological-warfare; Biological-weapons; Chemical-warfare-agents; Filters; Filtration; Air-quality; Airborne-particles; Biological-agents; Chelating-agents; Radioactive-materials
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DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2003-136
NIOSH Division
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Research Tools and Approaches: Control Technology and Personal Protective Equipment
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: October 26, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division