January 7, 2021

NIOSH Compiles Resources on Respiratory Protection

Two new webpages on respiratory protection published by NIOSH’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) outline resources related to elastomeric half-mask respirators (EHMRs) and respirator exhalation valve research.

An EHMR is a type of reusable air-purifying respirator that uses replaceable cartridges or filters. NPPTL’s EHMR resources page compiles information about these respirators and describes challenges and benefits related to the devices’ use. The page also collects links to and summaries of studies related to EHMRs as well as other resources such as infographics, NIOSH documents, NIOSH blog posts, and other relevant publications and journal articles.

The other new NIOSH/NPPTL webpage summarizes research on respirator exhalation valves, which are found on some types of respirators, including EHMRs and filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs). According to NPPTL, respirators with exhalation valves are believed to be more comfortable for wearers and better suited for longer periods of use. However, because an exhalation valve can introduce unfiltered exhaled air into the surrounding area, CDC does not recommend the use of respirators with exhalation valves in certain healthcare settings, such as operating rooms. NIOSH is conducting research into these respirators’ ability to prevent disease transmission from wearers to others. A technical report published in December describes a NIOSH study examining the potential for source control of FFRs with an exhalation valve.

More information about respiratory protection is available from NPPTL’s website.