Deadline approaching for NIOSHs new respirator standard

Deadline approaching for NIOSH`s new respirator standard

By Susan English-Seaton

Pittsburgh, PA — NIOSH has updated and modernized federal regulations that certify air-purifying particulate respirators. The new certification standard, known as 42 CFR Part 84, reclassifies filters by specific efficiency ratings and performance characteristics rather than by type of hazard. NIOSH is allowing manufacturers to make and ship 30 CFR Part 11 particulate filters as NIOSH-certified until July 10, 1998. After that, respirator manufacturers must offer only respirators and filters that comply with 42 CFR Part 84.

For respirator users, this means getting a handle on the new rules of compliance — and beginning the transition from the old standard (30 CFR Part 11) to the new (42 CFR Part 84). The switch to 42 CFR Part 84-compliant respirators will take time, and it calls for making wise-buying decisions. It may also involve the purchase of an entire new line of NIOSH-compliant products under 42 CFR Part 84.

While most people will be able to continue using their current respirators, many filters certified under the old standard will not meet the requirements of the updated rule because initial efficiency requirements of particulate filters have been increased. Specifically, many of the current “dust/mist” and “dust/mist/fume” filters will have to be redesigned. Ideally, “drop-in” replacements will be available.

The new standard currently outlines testing and certification requirements only for non-powered 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 non-oil- and oil-containing hazards.

For air-purifying particulate-filters, the new standard creates three new series of particulate filters: N (non-oil), R (oil-resistant) and&#165(oil-proof). All are tested against the most penetrating size aerosol (0.3 microns). Filters in each of the three series (non-oil, oil-resistant, and oil-proof). will have three minimum efficiency levels: 95.99 and 99.97 percent, for a total of nine new particulate filter designations from which to choose. CR


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