This Week is Respiratory Protection Week: Celebrating 100 Years of Respiratory Health

This Week is Respiratory Protection Week: Celebrating 100 Years of Respiratory Health

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) celebrates one hundred years of respirator protection and certification with the first annual Respiratory Protection Week.

Breathing is something we do easily, without thinking. But for the five million U.S. workers who wear respirators to do their job safely and well, breathing is not something taken for granted. During the week of September 3-6, NIOSH celebrates 100 years of respirator protection and certification with its first annual Respiratory Protection Week.

The need for certified respirators was first brought to public attention a century ago when the U.S. Bureau of Mines started the first respirator certification program. It certified the first respirator to protect miners from oxygen-deficient and toxic atmospheres. Respirator protection has greatly expanded since 1919 after two world wars, the introduction of chemical warfare agents, various inhalation and environmental threats, and advances in science and technology.

For respirator certification, research, and testing activities, NIOSH has the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL). While the look of respirators has changed over the years, the mission of the NPPTL has remained the same: “to protect workers from respiratory hazards on the job, from emergency responders who are first to enter a hazardous scene to healthcare providers treating patients with Ebola to life’s evergreen exposures and future emergencies.”

The NPPTL’s research focuses on testing procedures and recommending respirators for approval, thereby ensuring a level of standard filter efficiency for all respirator used in a U.S. workplace setting. The most common type of particulate filtering facepiece respirator is the N95, and it has historically been recognized every September 5 as N95 Day. This year, N95 Day has expanded to Respiratory Protection Week.

This week, celebrate respiratory safety with NIOSH’s Respiratory Protection Week between September 3-6. View a historical timeline of 100 Years of Respiratory Protection and read more about NIOSH’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory and how it addresses environmental and air hazards in the occupational setting. 

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