N95 Respirators in Industrial and Health Care

Most N95 respirators are manufactured for use in construction and other industrial-type jobs that expose workers to dust and small particles. They are regulated by the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) in the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

However, some N95 respirators and Protective Face Shields are intended for use in a health care setting. Specifically, single-use, disposable respiratory protective devices used and worn by health care personnel during procedures to protect both the patient and health care personnel from the transfer of microorganisms, body fluids, and particulate material. 

N95s respirators regulated under product code MSH are class II medical devices exempt from 510(k) premarket notification, unless:

  • The respirator is intended to prevent specific diseases or infections, or
  • The respirator is labeled or otherwise represented as filtering surgical smoke or plumes, filtering specific amounts of viruses or bacteria, reducing the amount of and/or killing viruses, bacteria, or fungi, or affecting allergenicity, or
  • The respirator contains coating technologies unrelated to filtration (e.g., to reduce and or kill microorganisms).

An N95 respirator is a respiratory protective device designed to achieve a very close facial fit and very efficient filtration of airborne particles. Note that the edges of the respirator are designed to form a seal around the nose and mouth. Surgical N95 Respirators are commonly used in healthcare settings and are a subset of N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators (FFRs), often referred to as N95s.