As a precautionary measure, it is often recommended that workers take steps to reduce their exposure to airborne nanoparticles through the use of respiratory protective devices. The purpose of this study was to provide a review and analysis of the research literature and current recommendations on respirators used for protection against nanoparticles. Key research findings were that studies with particles as small as 4 nm have shown that conventional single-fiber filtration theory can be used to describe the filtration performance of respirators and that the most penetrating particle size for respirators equipped with commonly used electrostatic filter media is in the range of 30-100 nm. Future research needs include human laboratory and workplace protection factor studies to measure the respirator total inward leakage of nanoparticles. Industrial hygienists and safety professionals should continue to use traditional respirator selection guidance for workers exposed to nanoparticles.
Ronald E. Shaffer, National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 626 Cochrans Mill Road, Building 29, P.O. Box 18070, Pittsburgh, PA 15236
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