NIOSH develops PPE, respirator standards for CBRN attacks

By FireRescue1 Staff

CINCINNATI, Ohio — NIOSH, in partnership with the U.S. Army Soldier Biological and Chemical Command (SBCCOM), and the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), is developing comprehensive standards and test procedures for all types of PPE and respirators that may be used during response to a terrorist attack.

A new document, "Attention Emergency Responders: Guidance on Emergency Responder Personal Protective Equipment PPE for Response to CBRN Terrorism Incidents," provides comparison information that will allow state, local and federal departments to assess responders PPE needs when facing a CBRN threat. The document is online at

The standards classify three levels of PPE, and the new document describes which should be worn under various environmental conditions. For example, an ensemble consisting of NFPA 1971 with CBRN option and a NIOSH CBRN SCBA is classified as Level B. Level B ensembles should be selected when “the highest level of respiratory protection is necessary but a lesser level of skin protection is needed,” according to the document.

The CBRN respiration standards cover escape respirators, full facepiece air purifying respirators (APRs) and SCBAs, among others. Concepts and standards pertaining to respirators are available on the NIOSH website at

Additional recommendations and guides for PPE use can be found at

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