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Respiratory Protection

3M 8210 Particulate Respirator N95

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Who Are The Regulatory Agencies Involved?

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) regulates the manufacturing and testing of respirators, but does not control their use.  Canadian Standards Association (CSA) sets out the requirements for the proper selection, use and care of respiratory protective devices and for the administration of an effective Respiratory Protection Program.

In Canada, the enforcement agencies for health & safety regulations are as follows:

  • Human Resources Development Canada under the Canada Labour Code
  • Ministry of Labour under the Occupational Health & Safety Act.

In the United States, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the agency that enforces health and safety regulations in the workplace.  OSHA determines the appropriate respiratory protection for specific hazards and enforces its use.

Regulations require that respiratory protection shall be provided by the employer when such equipment is necessary to protect the health of employees.  The employer shall provide the respirators which are applicable and suitable for the purpose intended. 

NOTE:  A qualified person, usually an industrial hygienist, can safely determine the appropriate respiratory protection through proper air sampling and analysis procedures.


It is the responsibility of the Employer to implement an effective and ongoing Respiratory Protection Program.  To assist the Program Administrator the following publications should be reviewed:

1)  Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Z94.4-93 entitled Selection, Use, and Care of Respirators
2)  OSHA Respiratory Protection Required Ten-Point Program 29 CFR 1910.134.
3)  NIOSH Guide to the Selection and Use of Particulate Respirators Certified Under 42 CFR 84, document number DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 96-101.

Knowledge of respiratory hazards and the appropriate selection of respiratory equipment is essential to ensure your continued existence on planet Earth.

42 CFR Part 84

The new NIOSH respirator certification standard, 42 CFR Part 84, which revised the criteria for testing and certification of negative pressure particulate respirators, became effective July 10, 1995.  Part 84 replaces 30 CFR Part 11, the existing respirator certification regulation under which NIOSH and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) had jointly certified respirators since 1972.  In changing from Part 11 to Part 84, only air purifying, particulate filter respirators are affected.  Consequently, the use of any of the 42 CFR Part 84 filters is not limited by the particle size of the hazard or the PEL of the hazards as was the case with 30 CFR Part 11 filters.  Non-powered, particulate filters certified under Part 84 are now described by new classes designated N, R, and P.

N-series particulate filters may be used for any solid particulate hazard or liquid particulate hazard that does not contain oil.  Because of high (200 mg) filter loading in the certification test, there is no recommended service time limit for N-series filters in most workplace setting.

R-series particulate filters may be used for any solid or liquid particulate hazard.  If the liquid hazard contains oil, the R-series filter may be used for only one shift (eight hours), or the service time may be extended beyond eight hours of use if an evaluation of the specific workplace setting demonstrates that extended use will not degrade the filter efficiency below the certified efficiency level, or the total mass loading of the respirator is less than 200 mg (100 mg per filter for dual-filter respirators).

P-series particulate filters may be used for any solid or liquid particulate hazard.  There is no time limitation on the use of P-series filters.  Any particulate filters should be replaced, however, when breathing resistance becomes excessive or the filter is damaged.

N, R, and P-series particulate filters are further distinguished on the basis of filtration efficiency.

95 Filter - equals or exceeds 95%,
99 Filter - equals or exceeds 99%, and
100 Filter - equals or exceeds 99.97% for the most penetrating particle size of the hazard.

How To Tell If A Respirator Is Certified Under 42 CFR 84 - All 42 CFR 84 respirators have a certification number that starts with 84.  If the TC approval number does not begin with 84, then it is not 42 CFR 84 certified.


A poorly fitting respirator is worse than no respirator; it gives the user a false sense of security.

Fit Checking your respirator before each use is important to minimize contaminant leakage into the facepiece.  A fit check is not the same as a fit test and does not take the place of a fit test.  You should perform both a negative-pressure and a positive-pressure fit (sealing) check.

A Negative-Pressure Fit (Sealing) Check consists of closing off the inlet opening of the respirator so that it will not allow the passage of air, inhaling gently, and holding the breath for a least 10 seconds.  The facepiece must not be distorted while performing this check.  Note:  To avoid possible disruption of the facial seal, an appropriate plastic wrap may be used in place of sealing the inlet with the hands.

A Positive-Pressure Fit (Sealing) Check is conducted by closing off the exhalation valve or breathing tube or both, and exhaling gently.  The fit of a respirator equipped with a facepiece is considered to be satisfactory if a slight positive pressure can be built up inside the facepiece without detection of any outward leakage of air between the sealing surface of the facepiece and the respirator wearer's face.

If leakage is detected with either negative-pressure or positive-pressure fit check, re-adjust the facepiece and re-check.  These simple pressure checks should be performed when the facepiece is initially donned and at frequent intervals throughout the work day to ensure proper fit.

Fit Testing is a way of ensuring that a respirator fits each individual wearer.  Fit testing requires a subject to wear a respirator and a person to administrate the test.  There are two types of fit test, qualitative and quantitative.

Qualitative Fit Test (QLFT) - A pass/fail test which requires the wearer to detect test agents such as iso-amylacetate (banana oil) or Bitrex.  The respirator wearer uses his or her sense to detect any leakage of the test agent into the facepiece.  If the contaminant concentration is greater than 10 times (for half-mask models) or 50 times (for full-face models) the listed amount, perform a quantitative fit test to see if these respirators can be recommended.

Quantitative Fit Test (QNFT) - a fitting test using sophisticated monitoring instrumentation that quantifies the actual protection factor provided to the person by the respirator.

When other personal protective equipment, such as eye, face, head, and hearing protectors, are required to be worn, these shall be worn during the respirator fit tests to ensure that they are compatible with the respirators and do not break the facial seal.  CSA Z94.4-93  7.1.6.


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3M 8210 Particulate Respirator N95

Uses a variety of patented technologies and features that enable them to filter a broad range of particles, nuisance odors and OSHA substance specific contaminants. They are approved under NIOSH 42 CFR 84.

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3M 8210 Particulate Respirator N95 - 20/box, 12 bxs/cs



3M 8210 Particulate Respirator N95 with exhalation valve - 10/box, 10 bxs/cs



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