By FireRescue1 Staff
WASHINGTON D.C. —The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) will celebrate 100 years of respirator protection and certification with the first annual Respiratory Protection Week held on Sept. 3-6.
According to a press release, the U.S. Bureau of Mines initiated the first respirator certification program over a century ago. Officials certified the first respirator to protect miners from oxygen-deficient and toxic atmospheres.
Since 1919, through two World wars and the introduction of chemical warfare agents, various inhalation and environmental threats, and advances in science and technology, respirator protection expanded and became even more exact and adequate for a variety of industries and occupations. Standards were developed, and there was a significant move from advisory to mandatory protection.
NIOSH's National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) is responsible for respirator certification and carries out research, testing and related activities specific to respirator protection and other protective equipment.
"Respiratory Protection Week honors both the history and the future of the efforts by researchers and practitioners to protect workers from airborne toxins," NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. said. "NIOSH's own ongoing work in respiratory protection represents both a century's worth of experience in preventing disease for millions of working men and women who have relied on respirators to protect their lungs, and a new century's research in developing improvements in respiratory protection."
Since 2012, NIOSH has recognized September 5 as N95 Day, raising targeted awareness of respiratory protection and specifically of N95s, the most common type of particulate filtering facepiece respirators.