NIOSH issues first approval of respirators to be used by emergency responders

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has issued its first approval of respirators for occupational use by emergency responders against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents.

NIOSH approved Spiromatic Models 9030, 6630, and 4530, manufactured by Interspiro USA Inc, Branford CT. These are self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) that provide users with air from a pressurized cylinder or tank carried on the back.

The approval signifies that the products are expected to protect firefighters and other responders from chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear exposures in the line of duty. NIOSH based its determination on positive results from laboratory tests, evaluation of product specifications for the devices, and assessment of the manufacturer's quality control procedures.

This action allows the manufacturer to label the approved devices as NIOSH-certified for occupational use by emergency responders. It does not constitute a commercial endorsement of the products.

NIOSH tested and evaluated the devices under criteria announced in December 2001 for certifying SCBAs for occupational use by first responders against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents. The criteria built on NIOSH's existing program for certifying respirators for occupational use in traditional workplace settings such as factories, construction sites, and health care facilities.

The institute is continuing to test and evaluate other SCBAs submitted by manufacturers for certification under the new program. It also is developing similar criteria for approving other types of respirators, such as air-purifying devices, for use by emergency responders. The first approval will be posted on the NIOSH web page at www.cdc.gov/niosh, and other approvals will be announced and posted as they occur.

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