Respiratory Protection Week 2020
Supporting those who Support Us All
Those who wear respiratory protection for their jobs have always been at the foundation of our nation – the healthcare workers who heal us, the emergency responders who protect us, the construction workers and the farmers and all those who make, mend, build, and grow for us all. This year we want to use our Respiratory Protection Week observance as an opportunity to show our appreciation to you.
The best way we know to show our appreciation is to highlight the most pertinent respiratory protection information to help you make the best decisions to keep you and your employees safe. Please join us this year as we recognize the importance of respiratory protection through social media, webinars, and information products.
We thank you for all that you do.
Welcome to our annual Respiratory Protection Week observance!
We’ve compiled some of our most recent and most relevant respiratory protection resources here on this Respiratory Protection Week one-stop-shop in hopes that this information can provide direction and answer pertinent questions.
In 2019, NIOSH celebrated 100 years of respiratory protection – recognizing the anniversary of the first respirator approval and the beginning of a century of scientific research dedicated to keeping workers safe through the use respiratory protection. This was our opportunity to expand N95 Day into a more inclusive observance, bringing in those who rely on all types of respiratory protection.
In 2020, NIOSH has been more dedicated than ever to applying the best scientific approach to determine proper respiratory protection practices, innovative respirator designs, and maximizing the availability of respiratory protection.
Respiratory Protection Week 2020 NIOSH Science Blog: Supplementing the Supply of N95s with Reusable Elastomeric Half Mask Respirators
One vital aspect to supporting those who support us all is to continue to explore options to make effective respiratory protection available where it is needed most.
The high demand and resultant limited supply of N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) have led organizations to rely on other types of respirators, such as reusable elastomeric half mask respirators (EHMRs). Learn more about these types of respirators in the first of two Respiratory Protection Week NIOSH Science Blogs.
Respiratory Protection vs. Source Control – What’s the difference?
This Respiratory Protection Week bonus blog breaks down the difference between respiratory protection and source control.
Understanding Respiratory Protection to Know You’re Protected
NIOSH Science Blogs
Understanding the Use of Imported Non-NIOSH-Approved Respirators
When a respirator has been approved by NIOSH, the user can be confident that the device will provide the expected level of protection, as long as it fits properly and is worn correctly. But when serious outbreak conditions cause a shortage of the NIOSH-approved filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs), other reliable options must be found.
Respiratory Protection During Outbreaks: Respirators vs Surgical Masks
Two types of devices are most commonly used in the healthcare setting: N95 FFRs and surgical masks. It is important to understand the difference between these two devices to ensure proper protection and accurate information when possible.
Note on Approved Respirator Configurations (holiday blog)
It’s important to understand if the components of the respirator that you are using make an official NIOSH-approved assembly.
Factors to Consider when Planning to Purchase Respirators from Another Country, Including KN95 Respirators from China
This webinar discusses key factors to help buyers make informed procurement decisions when making a respirator purchase. The information will help to maximize the likelihood of obtaining safe and effective products that will keep workers safe.
Filtration Efficiency Performance of Non-NIOSH-Approved International Respiratory Protective Devices: Phase One
This report summarizes the filtration performance results from the assessments that took place as a result of the initial Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) issued by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and discusses important considerations when purchasing non-NIOSH approved international respiratory devices temporarily authorized for occupational use in the United States.
Personal Protective Equipment Conformity Assessment Studies and Evaluation Notes: Firefighter SCBA Facepiece Sizing Issues
When users experience issues with NIOSH-approved respirators, NIOSH initiates a Certified Product Investigation Process to identify the root cause and develop corrective actions. This document is an example of a past issue that NIOSH addressed through this process. This example focuses on self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) facepiece sizing issues within fire departments.
Explore More Respiratory Protection Infographics!
We pulled some of the important information from our various in-depth resources, packaging them into quick-study infographics to be used as educational tools. We hope that you will download, print, and use these to promote proper respiratory protection program practices.
Proper Respiratory Protection Use
NIOSH Science Blogs
Proper N95 Respirator Use for Respiratory Protection Preparedness
When outbreaks of infectious disease occur, we rely on healthcare professionals to care for those affected, putting themselves at increased risk of exposure to the pathogen causing the disease. While engineering and administrative controls should be the first considerations to protect these workers from this exposure, facilities should also ensure that at-risk employees are prepared to use respiratory protection.
The Need for Fit Testing During Emerging Infectious Disease Outbreaks
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requiresexternal icon healthcare facilities to maintain a respiratory protection program that specifies requirements for annual fit testing. When there are many other demands upon your time, and resources are being conserved, it is natural to ask – is all this fit testing really necessary?
A Guide to Respirators Used for Dust in Construction
Construction dust can cause serious damage to workers’ health and life-threatening diseases. Construction workers can be exposed to many types of dust, such as silica, wood, and lead dust.
Preparing Solutions for Qualitative Fit Testing from Available Chemicals
The agents used in qualitative fit testing are usually available commercially in convenient, ready-to-use packaging that contains premade dilutions of the reagents. This will often include all the consumables needed to perform the test (stirrer, absorbent paper, nebulizer, etc.). When these ready-to-use packages are not available, the QLFT can be performed by using the required solutions prepared from commercially available reagents.
Prolonged Use of Respirators
NIOSH Science Blogs
The Physiological Burden of Prolonged PPE Use on Healthcare Workers during Long Shifts
During these extended work shifts, many healthcare workers are also required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), which may include N95 FFRs, elastomeric half-mask respirators, or powered air-supplied respirators (PAPRs). Particular features of PPE can impose a physiological (how the body normally functions) burden on the healthcare worker, which can be exacerbated by long work hours without adequate breaks for eating, hydration and self-care.
Considerations for Covering N95s to Extend Use
While wearing a covering over an N95 is not consistent with the condition of the NIOSH approval, several studies have been conducted on the effects of wearing a surgical mask over an N95. This blog summarizes the available research on covering N95s when such practices are considered as part of a crisis strategy (i.e., as a last resort).
Skin Irritation from Prolonged Use of Tight-Fitting Respirators
Skin irritation caused by disposable FFR use for extended periods of time has been documented during past outbreaks of respiratory infectious diseases.
Respiratory protection program managers, healthcare providers, and end users should understand how proper respirator fit and use can decrease skin irritation, as well as how to treat potential skin irritation caused by extended respirator use.
Heat Stress Imposed by PPE Worn in Hot and Humid Environments
Heat stress is another potential stress factor that healthcare workers (HCWs) who use personal protective equipment (PPE) and their employers should be aware of in order to recognize the signs and be prepared with the knowledge of how to alleviate the burden.
Additional Blogs and Fact Sheets of Interest
We invite everyone with an interest in respiratory protection to join the conversation on social media using #RespiratorWeek. Follow @NIOSH_NPPTL and @NIOSH on twitter (#RespiratorWeek) as well as on the NIOSH Facebook page and Instagram.
Just as in previous years, check this web page the week of September 8 for a comprehensive guide to the day, including brand new and well-established resources.
NIOSH will host two webinars during Respiratory Protection Week 2020.
The Top Ten Frequently Asked Questions about Respiratory Protection
Webinar Recording: Archived recording now availableexternal icon
On Tuesday September 8, 2020 at 1:00 EDT, a panel of NIOSH experts on respiratory protection will address their top ten questions. These topics will include respirator use in healthcare settings, NIOSH approval, special circumstances with respirators and filters, use of expired respirators, fit testing, CO2 buildup in respirators, and more!
Jon Szalajda: Jonathan Szalajda became the NIOSH NPPTL Deputy Director in September, 2015. Since joining NPPTL in 2001, Jon has held various leadership roles in the organization. Some of his duties included being responsible for developing and promulgating new approval Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) related standards and regulations, including NIOSH’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) respirator standards. Prior to coming to NIOSH, Mr. Szalajda was a proposal manager for Bombardier Transportation and was the systems manager for the M40 Mask program with the Department of the Army. He holds a BS degree in Chemical Engineering from Penn State and MS degrees in engineering from the George Washington University and the University of Pittsburgh. He has worked in the fields of respiratory protection and PPE for over 30 years. Mr. Szalajda is currently a member of NFPA Respiratory Protection Technical Committees, the Vice-Chairman of the ASTM-ANSI F23.65 committee on Respiratory Protection, and a past president of the AIHA Respiratory Protection Committee.
Jeff Peterson: Mr. Peterson has over 29 years of technical expertise in the area of respiratory protection. He began his career with NIOSH in 1991; he performed testing and research in support of standards development efforts for Title 42, Code of Federal Regulation, Part 84 (42 CFR 84). After the implementation of 42 CFR 84 in 1995, Mr. Peterson remained with the respirator certification program as a General Engineer where he utilized his knowledge and skills to address and resolve technical issues and customer concerns related to approving and testing respiratory protection equipment. He became the team lead for respirator certification in 2006 and Deputy Branch Chief in 2010, coordinating technical and policy reviews for certification projects. Mr. Peterson now serves as the Branch Chief of the NIOSH NPPTL Conformity Verification and Standards Development Branch where he provides technical leadership, project management and administrative support for all projects related to respirator certification activities mandated by 42 CFR 84.
Lee Greenawald: Dr. Lee Greenawald is a physical scientist in the Conformity Verification & Standards Development Branch. She joined NPPTL in 2009. Prior to her current position, she went through various student intern positions within NPPTL while attending undergraduate and graduate school. Dr. Greenawald’s educational background includes: a B.S. in forensic chemistry from Ohio University and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Virginia University focusing. Her area of expertise includes post-market testing and evaluation research for various types of PPE, such as stockpiled respirators and surgical gowns, assessing heavy metal chemical contaminants trapped on fire fighter turnout gear, and evaluating the protective performance of PPE against emerging chemical and narcotic agents of interest. She is part of NPPTL’s Workplace Satisfaction Committee, the Northern WV American Chemistry Society, and the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh. Her professional interests include post-market PPE research activities, CBRN respiratory protection research activities, and the science behind CBRN filtration properties.
Edward Fisher: Edward Fisher is a Biologist in the Research Branch. He joined NPPTL in 2010. Prior to his current position, he was a lab technician at Duquesne University. Edward Fisher received his bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Biology and his expertise is microbiology. His professional interest is personal protection equipment for use against pathogens.
Mike Bergman: Mr. Bergman is an a Biologist at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health National Personal Protection Technology Laboratory. He received an M.S. in Public Health from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He has experience in the fields of respirator use, policy, and research. His research interests include respirator fit testing, aerosol filtration, and developing new advanced respirator test headforms to better simulate the anthropometric sizes, skin, and head and facial movements of people. He has routinely performed human respirator fit test data collection for numerous NIOSH laboratory studies. Mr. Bergman’s primary research since 2010 has been developing advanced respirator fit test headforms. Previous headforms were based on outdated anthropometric size data and could not provide realistic respirator fit. These new headforms were developed from anthropometric data representative of the current U.S. civilian workforce. Mr. Bergman was honored for his headform development work as the winner of the 2015 American Industrial Hygiene Association John White Award for Best Paper in the category of respiratory protection for the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. In 2018, he became part of a NIOSH project (SPARTAN) to develop new test requirements for the next generation of powered air-purifying respirators (PAPR) for use in healthcare.
Warren (Jon) Williams: Dr. W. Jon Williams is currently a Senior Research Physiologist in the Research Branch of the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL)/NIOSH/CDC. Dr. Williams has 30 years of experience in human experimental physiology. Dr. Williams received B.S. and M.S. degrees in Biology from San Diego State University and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Physiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He then received a National Academies/National Research Council Resident Research Associateship (post-doctoral fellowship) to work at the NASA Johnson Space Center in the Medical Sciences Division. Dr. Williams conducted several studies on the effects of simulated and actual microgravity on human physiology. He was then hired by a NASA contractor Wyle Life Science (formally Krug Life Sciences) as a Senior Research Scientist and then Section Supervisor of the NASA Exercise Physiology Laboratory where he continued his research on the physiological response to microgravity. In 2003, he was recruited to the NPPTL to establish a human research capability and subsequently established the Human Physiology Laboratory, the Biochemistry Laboratory, and the Thermo-Physiology Laboratory including a human rated environmental test chamber.
Dr. Williams has served on national and international standards organization and was a co-author of the revision of the NIOSH  NIOSH criteria for a recommended standard: occupational exposure to heat and hot environments. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication 2016-106. In addition, Dr. Williams has authored or co-authored a total of approximately 120 peer-reviewed scientific articles, conference papers/abstracts, book chapters, and government documents.
How to spot a counterfeit! Understanding the Misrepresentation of NIOSH Approval
Webinar Recording: Archived recording now availableexternal icon
Join us on September 10, 2020 at 12:00 EDT for a webinar to learn about how to identify NIOSH approved respirators and signs for spotting counterfeit respirators.
Counterfeit respirators are products that are falsely marketed and sold as being NIOSH approved and may not be capable of providing appropriate respiratory protection to workers. In this webinar, we will look at how to identify a NIOSH-approved respirator as well as signs that a respirator might be a counterfeit. We will also discuss some of the respirator counterfeit issues we have observed over the last several months.
John Powers: Mr. Powers is a Supervisory General Engineer and Branch Chief with the NIOSH NPPTL Evaluation and Testing Branch in Morgantown, West Virginia. Mr. Powers has worked at NIOSH for the past 21 years. Prior to NIOSH, Mr. Powers worked 9 years for the Department of Defense. He received a B.S. in electrical engineering from The Pennsylvania State University in 1988. Mr. Powers has several publications related to the development of engineering controls to protect workers. His current interests are on the development of real-time sensor technology for respiratory protection as well as the development of conformity assessment programs for personal protective equipment.
Kim Gavel: Ms. Gavel is the Deputy Branch Chief for the Evaluation and Testing Branch at the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL). She has over thirty years’ experience in the fields of Quality Assurance Engineering and Ergonomics with the Federal Government. She completed B.S. and M.S. degrees in Industrial Engineering, both from the University of Pittsburgh, and completed the requirements of the Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics. Prior to joining NPPTL, Ms. Gavel conducted research aimed at reducing acute and cumulative trauma injuries to mine workers. Since 2002, Ms. Gavel has worked for NPPTL, where she oversees the certified product investigation program and onsite quality assurance evaluations of manufacturers of NIOSH approved respiratory equipment.
Marisa Fries: Ms. Fries is a Health Communication Specialist in the Research Branch at the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL). She joined NPPTL in 2013. Prior to her current position, she went through various student intern positions and fellowship roles within NPPTL. She received a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Since joining NPPTL in 2013, she has been involved in the development of several communication products such as infographics and fact sheets. Ms. Fries is currently the NIOSH NPPTL coordinator for all PPE Concerns public inquiries.
Christina Baxter: Dr. Baxter is the CEO of Emergency Response TIPS, LLC which provides practical, evidence-based solutions for emergency response through the development of next generation tools for enhanced situational awareness and responder safety and instructional design materials for instructor-led and web-based programs in the areas of CBRNE, hazardous materials, and clandestine laboratory response. Prior to forming Emergency Response TIPS, LLC, Dr. Baxter was the program manager over the CBRNE program at the Department of Defense’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office where she was responsible for managing domestic and international CBRNE research and development programs to combat terrorism on behalf of the U.S. Government, as well as overseeing the international CBRNE agreements with Australia, Canada, Israel, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. Dr. Baxter is the chairperson for the National Fire Protection Association standards for CBRNE personal protective equipment. She is also a committee member for several other standards in the protection and hazardous materials operations arenas. She has greater than 20 years experience in the CBRNE/hazardous materials emergency response community.
Respiratory Protection Week kicked off last year with NIOSH’s 100 Years of Respiratory Protection Celebration. But this observance goes back well before that. Respiratory Protection Week grew out of the N95 Day, an observance focused on N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators, which began in 2012. We created the observance to increase the availability of educational tools and the awareness of proper respirator use because we believed that confidence and familiarity with proper respirator practices ideally happens before the time comes when a respirator is needed. As we gain a deeper understanding of respiratory protection through our pursuit of the science, we will continue to pass our findings on to you.
Whether you are new to respiratory protection week, or you are an old school N95 Day pro, we welcome you to hop on board and see how this observance has evolved. These blast from the past blog posts highlight the spirit of the day, encouraging users and respiratory protection program managers everywhere to familiarize themselves with the respiratory protection tools available from NIOSH:
2013: A Guide to N95 Resources