AIHA’s Respiratory Protection Committee Releases White Paper on Research Needs in Respiratory Protection

Many current practices in respiratory protection are based on assumptions, past practices or extrapolation from laboratory studies, according to the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), and few studies have been done to evaluate the efficacy of or the need for each of these practices.

AIHA believes the results of research on the practical, applied topics presented in its newly released white paper may significantly enhance the safe and effective use of respiratory protection.

In recent years, the field of respiratory protection has experienced unprecedented, substantial opportunities and challenges. The establishment of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) provides a focal point for research and standard setting for new classes of respiratory protective devices. The increased demand for protection from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) hazards; outbreaks of life threatening viruses; and new technologies for more precise characterization of aerosol particle sizes, respiratory hazards and respirator performance are generating increased interest in this subject area.

The AIHA Respiratory Protection Committee determined this is an opportune time to consider respiratory protection research topics and priorities. Having a very diverse membership, the committee established a project team consisting of users, government officials, manufacturers, researchers, standards developers and other interested industrial hygienists. The project group identified seven high priority research topics including:

(1) Measurement of respirator performance
(2) Qualitative fit testing for full facepiece respirators
(3) Appropriateness of fit factor safety margin criterion
(4) In-facepiece measurements
(5) Effectiveness of respiratory protection program requirements
(6) Effectiveness of user seal checks
(7) Organic vapor cartridge desorption

AIHA hopes that NIOSH, universities and independent researchers will use this list to further investigate the benefits and to improve available respiratory protection.

You can view the AIHA white paper at http://www.aiha.org/news-pubs/govtaffairs/Documents/Research-Resp%20Protection-11-09-09.pdf.

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