Industrial Hygiene

Respiratory Protection

Last Updated: August 08, 2018

​The Army IH Program provides subject matter expertise for the use of commercial and military respiratory protective equipment and respirator programs.

The Army IH Program:men in yellow tyvek with half face respirators

  • Provides subject matter expertise for the use of commercial and military respiratory protective equipment and respirator programs.
  • Provides subject matter expertise for the use of commercial respirators in military specific applications as well as use of military respirators for chemical warfare agents, toxic industrial chemicals, and toxic industrial materials.
  • Reviews and develops responses to federal notices of proposed rulemaking, standards, and policies related to respiratory protection and provides input to regulatory and consensus standards reviews on behalf of MEDCOM, OTSG, DA, and DoD.
  • Participates as representatives on the InterAgency Board and consensus standards setting committees to remain current in the practices of respiratory protection and to represent the interests of the Army and DoD in various standards-setting activities.

For information on respirator use with chemical warfare agents, toxic industrial chemicals, and/or CBRN as it relates to respiratory protection, call 410-436-3118 or email Army Industrial Hygiene

Relevant Documents Man with SCBA

TIP - Technical Information Paper

MUC – Maximum Use Concentration

Definition:  The maximum use concentration (MUC) for a class of respirators determines the maximum protection level a class of respirators can provide against a single contaminant.
The MUC is calculated by multiplying the  Assigned Protection Factor (APF) of the facepiece or respirator unit by the occupational exposure limit (OEL).
The APF is the workplace level of respiratory protection that a respirator or class of respirators is expected to provide to employees when the employer implements a continuing, effective respiratory protection program. For example, Full facepiece respirator, APF = 50.
Be aware of concentration limitations of use for chemical media cartridges or canisters.

According to DA Pam 40-503, The Army Industrial Hygiene Program, "The DA mandates the use of ACGIH® TLVs® when they are more stringent than OSHA regulations or when there is no PEL (see DA Pam 40-11)."

Therefore, for Army IHs: MUC = APF x TLV.

The NIOSH Recommended Exposure Limits or RELsTM and Workplace Environmental Exposure Levels or WEELs may be used when no other OEL exists or is mandated by other Army regulations or guidance.

For most sampling events, TLVs are used because they are lower than the comparable PELs.

When calculating the MUC of a respirator, be sure to use the OEL of the particular standard developer that you are comparing as an employee exposure OEL.

·         In 2013, the development of Workplace Environmental Exposure Levels (WEELs) was transferred from AIHA to the Occupational Alliance for Risk Science (OARS) which is managed by Toxicology for Risk Assessment (TERA).  
AIHA will continue to post WEEL values on AIHA website as they are updated by OARS. WEEL values are also posted to the TERA OARS website. 
Source: external link icon

Training Materials 

  • OSHA Respiratory Protection for Healthcare Workers Training Video

OSHA has produced a new training video for healthcare employers and workers that explains the proper use of respirators and the procedures to follow to assure that respirators protect workers from airborne hazards in healthcare settings.
The 33-minute video explains the major components of a respiratory protection program including fit-testing, medical evaluations, training and maintenance.
The video also discusses the difference between respirators and surgical masks, features a segment on common respiratory hazards found in healthcare settings, and demonstrates how respirator use helps protect workers from exposure to airborne chemicals.   
You can view the video here:
Respiratory Protection for Healthcare Workers Training Video OSHA video external link icon

  • OSHA has several more Respiratory Protection Training videos available:  OSHA External Link.
    Many are offered in English and Spanish.
    Some of the titles available include:
    • Respiratory Protection in General Industry
    • Respiratory Protection in Construction
    • Respirator Types
    • Respirator Fit-testing
    • Maintenance and Care of Respirators
    • Medical Evaluations for Workers who use Respirators
    • Respiratory Protection Training Requirements
    • Voluntary Use of Respirators
    • Counterfeit and Altered Respirators: The Importance of NIOSH Certification
    • The Difference between Respirators and Surgical Masks
    • Respirator Safety. Donning (Putting on) and Doffing (Taking off) and User Seal Checks

  • NIOSH Publication No. 2010-131 describes pictorially how to put on/take off a respirator
     How to Properly Put on and Take off a Disposable Respirator external link icon

Respiratory Protection Links