Federal agencies Workplace exposures Respiratory protection Health care/social assistance Health Care Workers

NIOSH extends comment period for RFI on elastomeric half-mask respirators


Washington — NIOSH has extended until Dec. 14 the comment period for a Request for Information on the deployment and use of elastomeric half-mask respirators in health care settings and emergency medical services organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a notice published in the Oct. 13 Federal Register, the extension will allow stakeholders and other interested parties more time to provide input. NIOSH published the RFI in the Sept. 14 Federal Register, with the initial comment period slated to end Oct. 14.


The agency anticipates the widespread use of EHMRs will ease the demand for single-use N95 respirators in health care settings that are experiencing high numbers of COVID-19 cases. Citing media reports, NIOSH states that medical professionals have pointed to the use of EHMRs as critical to the pandemic response and that EHMRs are comfortable to wear. Additionally, given their low cost, ease of use, and ability to be cleaned and decontaminated, hospital staff have found the devices valuable in keeping workers safe.

In response to the pandemic, the Food and Drug Administration has authorized the emergency use of EHMRs, while the Strategic National Stockpile plans to purchase EHMRs to be distributed to health care workers, the notice states.

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