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Why NIOSH-Approved Masks Are Important 

You may have seen the term “NIOSH approved” thrown around a lot in the past year in relation to N95 respirators, surgical respirators, and other particulate respirator face masks. Here, we will explain what NIOSH approval means, and we will explain why NIOSH-approved masks are important.

What Does NIOSH Approved Mean?

The term “NIOSH approval” comes from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The NIOSH is a federal agency responsible for the researching and making the necessary recommendations to ensure the prevention of workplace injuries and ailments. Started in 1973, it’s a division within the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health will issue approval to only a specific, finished respirator assembly after it has been properly evaluated in a laboratory setting and is found to comply with the public health regulations and requirements 42 CFR part 84. The manufacturer’s quality plan and practices also need to be evaluated and deemed as satisfactory. Any respirator mask that meets these regulatory demands can be considered a NIOSH-approved particulate respirator.

What Makes NIOSH-Approved Masks So Critical?
NIOSH approval is important because those in need of adequate protection rely heavily on the respirator’s effectiveness rating being true. For instance, an NIOSH-approved N95 boasts a 95% or greater efficiency rating, meaning that it blocks at least 95% of non-oil-based airborne particulate. If, in actuality, you were using a respirator mask that is not NIOSH approved, you have no real idea as to how effective it is at blocking airborne particulate or pathogens.

If you’re not sure if a respirator mask you’ve purchased is NIOSH approved, you can refer to the CDC’s guidelines on Respirator Trusted-Source Information. Every NIOSH-approved respirator should have a number of appropriate markings and labels that can be easily identified on the respirator itself or the product’s packaging. Be wary of respirator masks missing NIOSH markings entirely.