NIOSH Asks Whether Respirator Filters Should be Tested Using Biological Aerosols

Published April 9, 2014

NIOSH requests information and comments to assess whether the agency should consider additional filter test methods to enhance existing requirements for determining respirator filtration efficiency, specifically the filtration of biological aerosols. The agency’s current filtration testing requirements use non-biological aerosol based on the assumption that all particles, both biological and non-biological, behave according to the same principles of aerosol physics for filtration.

In a post published to the NIOSH Science Blog last week, the agency asked potential commenters if there were any important developments in aerosol science or other key scientific data that would better inform NIOSH regarding the necessity of testing respirator filters with biological aerosols. NIOSH referred to current literature that suggests that focusing on “worst-case” conditions during respirator certification testing should provide “expected levels of protection” against all types of workplace aerosols, including biological aerosols.

Comments are due by April 30. For more information, see the Science Blog post or the NIOSH docket on