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	worker wearing a respirator

Program Description


The Mission of the PPT Program is to prevent work-related injury, illness, and death by advancing the state of knowledge and application of personal protective technologies (PPT).


The vision is to be the leading provider of quality, relevant, and timely PPT research, training, and evaluation. PPT in this context is defined as the technical methods, processes, techniques, tools, and materials that support the development and use of personal protective equipment worn by individuals to reduce the effects of their exposure to a hazard.

Research Council/Steering Committee

NIOSH has established an internal team of researchers, scientists, and management personnel to lead the strategic planning activities, program development, and monitoring to sustain the PPT Program.

The program strives to fulfill its mission through:

  • High Quality Research: NIOSH will continually strive for high quality research and prevention activities that will lead to reductions in occupational injuries and illnesses among workers across all industry sectors.
  • Practical Solutions: The NIOSH Program for the PPT Program is committed to the development of practical solutions to the complex problems that cause occupational diseases, injuries, and fatalities among workers in these industries.
  • Partnerships: We recognize that collaborative efforts in partnership with labor, industry, government, and other stakeholders are usually the best means of achieving successful outcomes. Fostering these partnerships is a cornerstone of the NIOSH Program for the PPT Program.
  • Research to Practice ( r2p ): We believe that our research only realizes its true value when put into practice. Every research project within the NIOSH Program for the PPT Program formulates a strategy to promote the transfer and translation of research findings into prevention practices and products that will be adopted in the workplace.


Definition and scope of the program area

Fatalities and injuries among the nation’s workers are substantially reduced with the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and technologies. It is estimated that 20 million workers use PPE on a regular basis to protect them from job hazards. PPE protects workers from death and disabling injuries and illnesses as well as protecting from the specific threats of exposures to certain airborne biological particles, chemical agents, splashes, noise exposures, fall hazards, head hazards, and fires. Improvements and changes in the personal protective technologies are realized in the form of standards and regulations, revisions and alterations to existing standards, subsequent availability of PPE complying with the standards and regulations, and demonstrations of PPE use by the workers.

Top problems or gaps

The top priorities of the program have focused around providing effective NIOSH-certified respiratory protection equipment for all workers. The terrorist threat has resulted in an increased emphasis on incorporating chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) protections into the respirator certification process and national protective clothing standards. CBRN standards-related initiatives are searchable on the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) Certified Equipment List (CEL) for approved CBRN air-purifying respirators (APRs) and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) respirators.

In addition, the threat of pandemic influenza has resulted in an increased emphasis on pandemic influenza preparedness and the personal protective technologies necessary to sustain operations in the event of pandemic influenza. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) conducted a study regarding the Reusability of Facemasks During an Influenza Pandemic . The PPT Program has initiated research in several areas recommended by the IOM in this study.

The rapid growth of nanotechnology has increased the amount of engineered nanoparticles in the industrial workplace. To address these concerns, the PPT Program has identified a priority to research and assess the efficiency of personal protective technologies against nanoparticles. The PPT-related nanotechnology initiatives are summarized here:

Finally, recent mine disasters and the importance of effective protections for all mine workers as emphasized by the Miner Act of 2006 have reemphasized the importance of effective emergency PPT for all mine workers. The PPT Program has developed a vision for the next generation of mine escape respirators and a concept for improving the Current Long-Term Field Evaluation (CLTFE) Program . Current PPT-related mining initiatives are described in the following documents:

Emerging Issues

The emerging issues of the program include an emphasis on CBRN protections for emergency response, pandemic influenza preparedness, nano-technolgy issues for PPT and effective emergency personal protective technologies for all miners.

Relevant Priority Populations

In fiscal year 2001, the U.S. Congress allocated funds to develop standards and technologies for protecting the health and safety of America’s workers, especially first responders, who rely on personal protective equipment, such as respirators, clothing, gloves, hard hats, and eye and hearing protective devices. Creation of NPPTL in 2001 consolidated the congressionally-mandated respirator certification program with respiratory protection research and standards development activities. The establishment of NPPTL began an initiative to align all PPT activities within NIOSH. This initiative was emphasized and further developed when the PPT Program was formally established in 2005.

Other Applicable Program Portfolio Areas

The PPT Program is applicable across all industry sectors and overlaps with the Hearing Loss Program , Traumatic Injury Program , Respiratory Disease Research Program and Cross Sectors.