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NIOSH Publication No. 2005-100:

NIOSH Respirator Selection Logic 2004

October 2004



The NIOSH Assigned Protection Factors (APFs) used in this Respirator Selection Logic are based on the 1987 NIOSH Respirator Decision Logic. These APFs are generally consistent with current APFs being enforced by OSHA for respirator use.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American National Standards Institute have proposed APFs of 1000 for certain types of hoods and helmets with powered air purification or supplied air where the manufacturer can demonstrate adequate air flows to maintain positive pressure inside the hood or helmet in normal working conditions. OSHA has the authority to permit exceptions to the general APF policy for certain workplace conditions and equipment. OSHA has currently approved APFs of 1000 for specific hoods and helmets devices for use in pharmaceutical and lead abrasive blasting applications. Examples of OSHA approvals for higher APFs can be found at:

Protection factors for respirators used in pharmaceutical industry: policy change 05/30/2002
External Link:

Interim interpertation concerning Type-CE respirators used in abrasive blasting that are manufactured by the E.D. Bullard Company, Models 77 and 88. 08/30/1995
External Link:



Chapter I. Background and Purpose

Chapter II. Information and Restrictions


A. Criteria for Selecting Respirators
  B. Restrictions and Requirements for All Respirator Usage
Chapter III. Respirator Selection Logic Sequence
  Table 1. Particulate Respirators
  Table 2. Gas/Vapor Respirators
  Table 3. Combination Gas/Vapor & Particulate Respirators
Chapter IV. Escape Respirators
Chapter V. Additional Information on Hazards and Exposures


Subparagraph 1: Oxygen-Deficient Atmosphere
  Subparagraph 2: Exposure Limits
  Subparagraph 3: Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH)
  Subparagraph 4: Eye Irritation

Chapter VI. Glossary of Respiratory Protection Terms

Appendix: NIOSH Policy Statement


The purpose of this Respirator Selection Logic (RSL) is to provide guidance to respirator program administrators on respirator selection that incorporates the changes necessitated by the revisions to the respirator use and certification regulations and changes in the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) policy. This RSL is not intended to be used for selection of respirators for protection against infectious agents or for chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) agents of terrorism. While respirators can provide appropriate protection against these agents, the information necessary to use the selection logic is generally not available for infectious disease or bioterrorism agents (e.g., exposure limits, airborne concentration). Similarly, CBRN terrorism events may involve chemicals that can quickly degrade respirator materials or have extremely low toxic levels that are difficult to measure.

In 1987, NIOSH published the NIOSH Respirator Decision Logic (RDL). Since then the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has promulgated a revision to their respirator use regulation (29CFR1910.134 published on January 8, 1998), and NIOSH has promulgated the revised respirator certification standard (42CFR84 on June 8, 1995). In addition, NIOSH has revised its carcinogen policy to recommend the complete range of respirators as determined by this respirator selection logic for those carcinogens with quantitative recommended exposure limits (RELs). Thus, respirators can be consistently recommended regardless of whether a substance is a carcinogen or not.

OSHA recently proposed a rule to establish assigned protection factors (APFs) for various classes of respirators (68FR34036 published on June 6, 2003). When the OSHA standard on APFs is finalized NIOSH intends to consider revisions to this RSL. NIOSH will also modify the certification program to assure that NIOSH certified respirators will be capable of providing the level of protection determined in the OSHA APF rulemaking. NIOSH also intends to periodically update the RSL so that it reflects current OSHA requirements and NIOSH policy.

Sincerely yours,
J Howard signature


The NIOSH Respirator Policy Group served as the internal reviewers for this document. Donald Campbell and Christopher Coffey made major contributions to this document through their extensive review and suggestions for revisions. NIOSH thanks Heinz Ahlers, Roland BerryAnn, Frank Hearl, Richard Metzler, Teresa Seitz, Douglas Trout and Ralph Zumwalde for their considerations and comments and Katie Musgrave for preparation of the document. NIOSH would also like to thank the external reviewers for their comments.
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