Respiratory Protection Week 2020

Respiratory Protection Week, September 8-11, 2020 banner

Respiratory Protection Week is over for another year. Until our next observance, you can sign up for the NIOSH NPPTL Listserv to receive updates or frequently visit the NIOSH NPPTL homepage for look for new products.

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!

Respiratory Protection Week, September 8-11, 2020 icon

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.

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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.

Webinar Recording

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.

NIOSH Assessments

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.


Understanding the Difference: Surgical Masks, N95 Respirators, and Elastomeric Half Mask Respirators

Three Key Factors Required for a Respirator to be Effective

Types of Respiratory Protection

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) requires 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.

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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.

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NIOSH will host two webinars during Respiratory Protection Week 2020.

The Top Ten Frequently Asked Questions about Respiratory Protection

Webinar Recording:
Archived recording now available

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!

Required Labeling of NIOSH-Approved N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators

How to spot a counterfeit! Understanding the Misrepresentation of NIOSH Approval

Webinar Recording:
Archived recording now available

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.

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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:

2019: NIOSH Launches Respiratory Protection Week in Celebration of 100 Years of Respiratory Protection

2018: Getting Down to the Particulars about Filter Class

2017: When to think Beyond the N95 FFR

2016: Proper Use, Filtration, and Fit – The Three-Legged Stool of Respiratory Protection

2015: The Tools to Build a Culture of Proper Respiratory Protection Practices

2014: Respirator Preparedness – Where Technology Meets Good Practices

2013: A Guide to N95 Resources

2012: Happy N95 Day! (aka, What is N95 Day?)