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NIOSH Fact Sheet: what's special about chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) powered air-purifying respirators (PAPR)?

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. 2013-156, 2013 Sep; :1-7
This guidance will help respiratory protection program administrators, managers, and powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) wearers understand the special features of a NIOSH-approved chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) PAPR. These respirators have unique performance, use limitations, and storage requirements compared to NIOSH-approved industrial PAPR. The respiratory protection program administrator should assure that PAPR manufacturer recommendations are addressed. This information may also be used by managers and PAPR wearers to optimize personal protection. NIOSH issues certificates of approval to CBRN PAPR as tight-fitting full facepiece gas mask respirators with canisters, referred to as "14G approval" and to PAPR's with loose-fitting hoods and cartridges as "23C approval." When using, purchasing, or storing a CRBN PAPR, the requirements set by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the manufacturer of the specific unit should all be taken into consideration. Remember, a 14G CBRN PAPR may be used for escape from an atmosphere that has become immediately dangerous to life or health, but a 23C CBRN PAPR may not be used in that situation. Additionally, approved CBRN PAPR must not be used in oxygen-deficient atmospheres or to enter an atmostphere immediately dangerous to life or health. OSHA defines an atmostphere immediately dangerous to life or health as follows: An atmospheric concentration of any toxic, corrosive or asphyxiant substance that poses an immediate threat to life or would interfere with an individual's ability to escape from a dangerous atmosphere (29 CFR 1910.120(a)(3)).
Respirators; Respiratory-equipment; Air-purifying-respirators; Performance-capability; Equipment-design; Equipment-reliability; Personal-protective-equipment; Hazardous-materials; Chemical-structure; Biological-material; Biological-weapons; Biological-warfare-agents; Radiation-protection; Nuclear-hazards; Face-masks; Standards; Oxygen-deficient-atmospheres; Power-generation
Publication Date
Document Type
Numbered Publication; Fact Sheet
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2013-156; M102013
NIOSH Division
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division