Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Deadline Approaching for NIOSH's New Respirator Standard

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Deadline Approaching for NIOSH's New Respirator Standard

Article excerpt

NIOSH has updated and modernized the federal regulations that certify air-purifying particulate respirators. In short, this new certification standard, known as 42 CFR Part 84, reclassifies filters by specific efficiency ratings and performance characteristics rather than by type of hazard. Beginning July 10, 1998, respirator manufacturers will be able to offer only products approved under this new 42 CFR Part 84 standard.

For respirator users, says Jay G. Mears, air-purifying respirator specialist at MSA, the Pittsburgh-based safety equipment manufacturer, this means safety and health managers must understand the new rules of compliance and begin making the switch from products that met the old standard, 30 CR Part 11, to the new 42 CFR Part 84.

Making the switch to 42 CFR Part 84-compliant respirators will take time and require keen purchasing decisions, he says. For many, it means selecting a new line of 42 CFR Part 84-compliant products, performing fit testing and making sure employees have optimum protection and comfort. Taking steps now, rather than later, to comply will spare the added stress and cost of rushing toward compliance.

MSA's Mears provided these answers to frequently asked questions about 42 CFR Part 84:

Q: Can I continue to use my existing inventory of NiOSH-approved 30 CFR Part 11 particulate filters?

A: Under 42 CFR Part 84, NIOSH is allowing manufacturers to make and ship 30 CFR Part 11 particulate filters and NiOSH-certified respirators until July 10,1998. Afterward, respirator manufacturers must offer only the respirators and filters that comply with 42 CFR Part 84. In the meantime, your current 30 CFR Part 11 products still provide adequate and approved protection.

Figure 1

Under 42 CFR Part 84, there are three series of air-purifying
particulate filters for nonpowered respirators:

Filter Series      Filter Type Designation    Minimum Efficiency

"N" Series                 N100                     99.97%
(Non-Oil)                  N99                         99%
                           N95                         95%

"R" Series                 R100                     99.97%
(Oil-Resistant)            R99                         99%
                           R95                         95%

"P" Series                 P100                     99.97%
(Oil-Proof)                P99                         99%
                           P95                         95%

Q: How is the new standard different from the old?

A: Currently, 42 CFR Part 84 outlines testing and certification requirements only for nonpowered air-purifying particulate filter respirators. While the 30 CFR Part 11 classifications were substance-specific (dust/mist and dust/mist/fume/HEPA), the new regulations classify particulate filters by efficiency and performance characteristics against nonoil- and oil-containing hazards.

Q: How have the NIOSH standards changed for air-purifying particulate-filter respirators?

A: The 42 CFR Part 84 standard creates three new series of particulate filters designated by NIOSH as N (Non-oil), R (oil-Resistant) and P (off-Proof). (See Figure 1) All of these filters are tested against the most penetrating size of aerosol (0.3 microns). Additionally, filters in each of the three series (N, R and P) will have three minimum efficiency levels - 95, 99 and 99.97 percent. For example:

* Filters with the "N95, R95 and P95" designations will be certified as having a minimum efficiency of 95 percent. …

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