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NIOSH fact sheet: what's special about CBRN self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA)?

Metzler RW; Szalajda JV
Pittsburgh, PA: 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. 2011-183, 2011 Jun; :1-6
In December 2001, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) implemented a voluntary approval program for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) respirators. NIOSH issues certificates of approval to SCBA in accordance with the requirements of Title 42 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 84. NIOSH approves open-circuit positive pressure SCBA as tight-fitting full face respirators (Subpart H) with compressed air cylinders. NIOSH "13F" approvals refer to SCBA, including CBRN SCBA. The 13F number/letter designation contained in the NIOSH approval number refers to the original U.S. Bureau of Mines (NIOSH predecessor) test schedule and the letter designates the revision level. These respirators may be used for entry into and escape from oxygen-deficient atmospheres and those immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH). The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines an IDLH value in their hazardous waste operations and emergency response regulation as follows: An atmospheric concentration of any toxic, corrosive or asphyxiant substance that poses an immediate threat to life or would cause irreversible or delayed adverse health effects or would interfere with an individual's ability to escape from a dangerous atmosphere (29 CFR 1910.120). CBRN SCBA respirators are different from other NIOSH-approved SCBA in that they must also comply with additional requirements and special tests defined by NIOSH in accordance with §84.63(c), including chemical agent permeation and penetration resistance against distilled sulfur mustard (HD) and sarin (GB), and laboratory respirator protection level (LRPL) tests. In addition, NIOSH also requires CBRN SCBA to meet the applicable National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1981 Standard for Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus for Emergency Services.
Personal-protective-equipment; Personal-protection; Protective-equipment; Protective-measures; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Chemical-warfare-agents; Biological-warfare-agents; Biological-weapons; Aerosols; Self-contained-breathing-apparatus; Laboratory-testing
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Numbered Publication
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DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2011-183
NIOSH Division
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: March 18, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division