The University of Iowa

PPE Respiratory Protection Information


If you have or use respirators, other than surgical masks for patient protection, please contact EHS if your area has not had a respirator selection survey by EHS. OSHA requirements apply to both respirators required to be worn and those used voluntarily for comfort or convenience.


Respirators are required to prevent occupational diseases caused by inhalation of contaminated air. A respirator is any device used to protect an individual from the inhalation of contaminated air or from exposure to hazardous atmospheres such as low oxygen. Respirators include dust masks, chemical cartridge respirators, PAPR (powered air purifying respirators), airlines, and SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus). Respirators do not include staff use of surgical masks for patient or product protection.

Respirator Use

The Environmental Health & Safety must evaluate respirator selection. The Health
Protection Office will also assist in implementing respirator program elements such as evaluations, monitoring, training, fit-testing, and model written programs. Departments are responsible for maintaining their respirator programs.

Respirator Standard

Required elements of the Respiratory Protection Standard are:

  1. Exposure evaluation to determine protection needed.
  2. Written program to document program procedures.
  3. Medical evaluations prior to respirator use. The University Employee Health Clinic provides this service for employees. Students should go through the Student Health Service for this evaluation.
  4. Respirator selection based on the exposure evaluation.
  5. Fit testing prior to use.
  6. Training prior to use.
  7. Recordkeeping including employee names, type of respirators selected fit testing, and training. These records must be maintained indefinitely by departments.