NIOSH logo and tagline

Letter to All Users of Supplied-Air Respirators Use of Unapproved Supplied-Air Respirators in the Paint Spray and Automotive Refinishing Industries

NIOSH Respirator User Notice

Issue Date: May 23, 1996

Subject: Letter to All Users of Supplied-Air Respirators Use of Unapproved Supplied-Air Respirators in the Paint Spray and Automotive Refinishing Industries

The Certification and Quality Assurance Branch of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has recently investigated several instances of misrepresentation of NIOSH respirator approvals. A particularly disturbing aspect of the investigations is the concentration of reports involving the paint spray and automotive refinishing industries. As a part of its effort to protect the health and safety of workers in all occupations, the agency is issuing this user’s notice in an attempt to inform the workers who would be directly affected by this misrepresentation and misleading information.

A number of supplied-air respirators have been advertised as being NIOSH-approved when in fact, the systems are of a configuration that NIOSH has never approved. The common elements of the systems that are not NIOSH approved are typically:

  1. a belt-mounted, filtration system advertised as the source of Grade D air
  2. a connection on the belt-mounted filtration system allowing pneumatic tools to be operated directly from the respirable air stream

The present regulations, contained in Title 42, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 84 (42 CFR Part 84), do not contain provisions to evaluate belt-mounted filtration systems as the source of Grade D air. It is important to note that there are approved, supplied-air respirators that possess belt-mounted, in-line filters, but in no case are these filters to be considered the source of Grade D air . The current regulations (42 CFR Part 84.141) require that Grade D or higher quality air be supplied to the supplied-air respirator at the point where the NIOSH approved air-supply hose connects to the respirable air source.

Additionally, no supplied-air respirator has ever been approved for use with any device that allows pneumatic tools to be operated from the respirable air stream, because of safety and health concerns over backflow, contamination of the respirable air stream, pressure loss, and airflow regulation.

In situations where NIOSH-approved, airline respirators are required, please be aware of the following:

  1. There is a supplied-air respirator system known as the Aircom 2000 that has been advertised as pending NIOSH approval. This system does not have NIOSH approval and no approval is pending . The Institute does not permit manufacturers to advertise pending approvals.
  2. There are several models of NIOSH approved supplied-air respirator systems that have been mis-represented as being approved with belt-worn filters as the source of Grade D air and/or pneumatic tool lines connected to the belt-worn filters and supplied from the respirable air stream. These respirator models include the SAS Safety Corporation EZ-Air 2000 system which consists of NIOSH approved Survivair supplied-air respirators (TC-19C-269 and TC-19C-292) connected to an unapproved belt-mounted filter system, and both the NIOSH-approved SATA models (TC-19C-210 and TC-19C-211) and Allegro (TC-19C-305) incorrectly advertised to indicate the connection of pneumatic tools to the belt-mounted filter system.

These manufacturers have been contacted and have agreed to correct instances of misleading advertising, but in the event that other unknown systems are being marketed, or outdated advertising materials are still in circulation, the Institute advises users that any supplied-air respirator in the configuration described above is NOT NIOSH approved and should not be used in situations that require the use of a NIOSH-approved supplied-air respirator.

The Institute also emphasizes the importance of using respiratory protective equipment only as part of a complete respirator program that addresses issues such as proper respirator selection, user training, proper fit, inspection, maintenance, and environmental monitoring.

Questions concerning this Users’ Notice should be directed to NIOSH at the following numbers:

PHONE: 304-285-5907

FAX: 304-285-6047