August 3, 2023

NIOSH Returns to Conventional Processing of Respirator Approvals

NIOSH’s Respirator Approval Program will no longer prioritize respirator approval applications by type of respirator as it did during the COVID-19 public health emergency, the agency announced in July. During the public health emergency, which expired on May 11, NIOSH prioritized applications for the approval of air-purifying particulate filtering respirators due to increased demand and decreased supply brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the agency returns to conventional operations, the supply and availability of respirators of this type has “increased significantly,” NIOSH explains in a letter to manufacturers from its National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory.

NIOSH will review respirator approval applications in the following order: new applications submitted by approval holders or applications for an extension of approval for any type of respiratory protection; first applications submitted by new respirator applicants; and applications resubmitted by new respirator applicants after a prior denial by NIOSH.

Applications for air-purifying particulate respirators that include a novel head suspension, such as ear loops, will not be accepted, NIOSH’s notice reminds approval holders and applicants. According to the agency, its approval program does not currently have a defined performance standard against which to assess such devices.

Further details about conventional application processing for NIOSH’s Respirator Approval Program can be found on the agency’s website.