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

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. 2013-157, 2013 Sep; :1-7
The guidance recommended in this fact sheet will help respiratory protection program administrators, managers, and air-purifying respirator (APR) wearers understand the special features of a NIOSH-approved Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) APR. These types of respirators have unique performance, use limitations, and storage requirements compared to NIOSH-approved industrial APR. The respiratory protection program administrator should assure that CBRN APR manufacturer recommendations are addressed. This information may also be used by managers and APR wearers to optimize personal protection. When using, purchasing, or storing a CRBN APR, the requirements set by NIOSH, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the manufacturer of the specific unit should all be taken into consideration. Remember, approved CBRN APR may only be used for escape from an atmosphere that has become immediately dangerous to life or health. These respirators must not be used in oxygen-deficient atmospheres or to enter an atmosphere immediately dangerous to life or health. OSHA defines an atmosphere 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
Publication Date
Document Type
Numbered Publication; Fact Sheet
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2013-157; 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