NIOSH Issues First Air-Purifying Escape Respirator Approvals for CBRN Protection

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has issued the first two certificates of approval for air-purifying escape respirators (APER) with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) protection.

Approval was granted on Oct. 24 to Pittsburgh-based Mine Safety Appliances Co. for the Safe Escape CBRN APER and on Oct. 28 to Frederica, Del.-based ILC Dover for the SCape CBRN APER. These respirators are air-purifying devices that use a chemical cartridge combined with a particulate filter to purify contaminated air.

The approvals signify that the products are expected to protect the general working population in escape scenarios from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear exposures that could be seen at a terrorist event. NIOSH based its determinations on positive results from rigorous laboratory tests, evaluation of product specifications for the devices and assessment of the manufacturer's quality control procedures.

The action allows the manufacturers to label the approved devices as NIOSH-certified for occupational use. It does not constitute a commercial endorsement of the product.

NIOSH tested and evaluated the devices under criteria announced in October 2003 for certifying escape respirators for use by the general working population against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents. The CBRN criteria built on NIOSH's existing program for certifying respirators for occupational use in traditional workplace settings such as factories, construction sites and health care facilities.

Development of the escape respirator program involved broad national support and collaboration by many agencies, organizations and stakeholders.

NIOSH is continuing to test and evaluate other escape respirators submitted by manufacturers for certification under this program. It also is developing similar criteria for approving other types of respirators, such as powered, air-purifying devices, for use by emergency responders. The approvals are posted on the NIOSH Web page at lhttp://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl. Other approvals will be announced and posted as they occur.

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