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The National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) is a division of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) which operates within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). NIOSH is the federal institute specifically dedicated to generating new knowledge in the field of occupational safety and health and to transferring that knowledge into practice for the betterment of workers.

NPPTL was established in 2001, at the request of Congress, with the mission of preventing disease, injury, and death for the millions of working men and women relying on personal protective technology (PPT). PPT plays an important role in keeping many workers within various industries safe while performing their professional duties. To achieve the Laboratory’s mission, NPPTL conducts scientific research, develops guidance and authoritative recommendations, disseminates information, and responds to requests for workplace health hazard evaluations. The development of NPPTL filled a need for improved personal protective equipment (PPE) and focused research into PPT.

“It has been brought to the Committee’s attention the need for design, testing and state-of-the-art equipment for this nation’s… miners, firefighters, healthcare, agricultural and industrial workers… (Also) the Committee encourages NIOSH to carry out research, testing and related activities aimed at protecting workers who respond to public health needs in the event of a terrorist incident. The Committee encourages CDC to organize and implement a national personal protective equipment laboratory.”

– Senate Report. 106-293 Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Appropriation Bill, 2001 Filed Under Authority of the Order of the Senate January 6, 1999

respirator mask, protective glove, hard hat, and CBRN respirator icons

Respiratory protection is the cornerstone of NPPTL’s efforts. One of the primary responsibilities of the Laboratory is to test and approve respirators used in U.S. occupational settings. This function ensures a standard level of quality and filtration efficiency for all respirators used within a U.S. workplace setting. The National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory Respirator Approval Program exists to increase the level of worker protection from airborne chemicals and vapors reducing the amount of worker illnesses contracted by this cause.

In addition to respirators, NPPTL conducts research on other types of PPE, including chemical-resistant clothing, hearing protection, gloves, safety goggles and glasses, hard hats, sensors to detect hazardous substances, and communication devices used for safety deployment of emergency workers. NPPTL researches PPE in order to examine exposures to inhalation hazards, dermal hazards, and any other hazardous environmental threats within an occupational setting.