March 3, 2022

NIOSH Outlines How Respirator Approval Program Applications Are Prioritized

A new NIOSH letter to respirator manufacturers explains how the agency’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) is prioritizing applications submitted to the NIOSH Respirator Approval Program. NIOSH will prioritize applications for half and full facepiece particulate filtering air-purifying respirators produced in the United States, including filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs), powered air-purifying respirators, and surgical N95 FFRs, the agency’s letter explains. Applications submitted by existing approval holders will also be prioritized because they are more likely to achieve and maintain approvals, according to NIOSH. The agency’s letter describes its continued focus on protecting healthcare workers and other workers who rely on NIOSH-approved respirators. Applications to increase the supply of NIOSH-approved particulate filtering respirators will be accepted and expedited, the agency says.

NIOSH’s letter stresses that its Respirator Approval Program is currently not accepting applications for the approval of air-purifying respirators with novel head suspensions such as ear loops. Until the standard ASTM F3407, Standard Test Method for Respirator Fit Capability for Negative Pressure Half-Facepiece Particulate Respirators, is incorporated into NIOSH regulations, the agency says its Respirator Approval Program “does not have a defined performance standard against which to assess devices with novel head suspensions.” ASTM F3407 is intended to increase the probability that available respirators fit a general worker population.

A full description of how NIOSH is prioritizing applications can be found in its letter on the NPPTL website.

Related:A New Standard for Respirator Fit,” an article published in the June/July 2021 Synergist, describes the development and benefits of ASTM F3407.