June 30, 2022

Approvals for Certain Respirators Now Obsolete, NIOSH Says

The temporary NIOSH approvals granted for 19 respirator models earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic have become obsolete, the agency announced this week. A device with an obsolete approval can no longer be manufactured, but it can still be sold, used, and recognized as NIOSH approved until the agency revokes the approval or the manufacturer rescinds it.

The affected devices include 14 N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) and four powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs). These devices have the letters “PH” in their NIOSH approval designations, indicating that they were approved for the public health emergency (PHE) related to the pandemic. A list of the now-obsolete respirators, with their NIOSH approval numbers and their manufacturers’ names, appears on the NIOSH website. The temporary approvals were granted between May and November 2020 to address shortages in respirator supplies.

NIOSH states that obsoleting the devices at this time allows users “to exhaust any remaining supply of PHE-approved respirators” and “plan to purchase other (non-PHE) NIOSH-approved respirators.” The NIOSH announcement indicates that the agency will revoke approvals for these devices at the end of the public health emergency.

All NIOSH-approved respirators appear on the agency’s certified equipment list. Users can also check the status of PHE approvals on the list.