NIOSH approves many types of filtering facepiece respirators. The most widely available are N95 respirators, but other types (N99, N100, P95, P99, P100, R95, R99, and R100) offer the same or better protection as an N95 respirator. Lists of respirators that are NIOSH-approved can be found on the NIOSH-Approved Particulate Filtering Facepiece Respirators webpage.
CDC recommends that specially labeled “surgical” N95 respirators — a special subtype of N95 respirators that provide additional protection against hazards present during medical procedures, such as blood splatter — should be reserved for use by healthcare personnel.
Employers who want to distribute N95 respirators to employees shall follow an Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) respiratory protection programexternal icon.
What to know about NIOSH-approved respirators
- When worn consistently and properly, they provide the highest level of protection from particles, including the virus that causes COVID-19. Additionally, they contain your respiratory droplets and particles so you do not expose others.
- They seal tightly to your face when fitted properly.
- It is important to pick a respirator that fits your face and seals well since not all fit the same.
- Respirators approved by NIOSH are evaluated against a specific US standard that includes a quality requirement.
- They filter at least 95% of particles in the air when approved by NIOSH and when you have a proper fit.
Do NOT wear NIOSH-approved respirators
- If it is hard to breathe while wearing them
- If they are wet or dirty
- With other masks or respirators