The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) conducted a survey of respirator use and practices of U.S. private sector employers in 2001 - 2002. The survey results showed that respirators are reported to be used to protect against biological substances (HIV and TB were listed as examples) and a wide variety of chemicals. Air-purifying respirators (APRs) were most frequently used by establishments to protect against dusts n.e.c. (n.e.c. = not elsewhere classified), paint vapors, solvents, silica dust, and welding fumes. Air-supplied respirators were used most frequently by establishments to protect against paint vapors, solvents, dusts n.e.c., silica dust, and carbon monoxide. Generally, the smallest establishments (10 or less employees) made up the greatest number of establishments where APRs were used, although their percentage use was the least. Among the major industry divisions, services, construction, and manufacturing had the greatest number of establishments where APRs were used for protection against substances including dusts n.e.c., paint vapors, solvents, silica dust, welding fumes, lead, acid gasses, and asbestos. Among the significant findings was the surprisingly large number of estimated establishments that used APRs for carbon monoxide (24,497 establishments). At least 40% of establishments had no known air sampling to aid in selecting APRs to protect against each of pesticides, dusts n.e.c., paint vapors, coal mine dust, coal tar pitch volatiles, coke oven emissions, and welding fumes.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1095 Willowdale Raod, Mail Stop HG900.2, Morgantown, WV 26505, USA