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Do I Need to Wear a Respirator?

To determine if a respirator is needed to protect from exposures to airborne contaminants in the workplace, employee(s) should consult with his/her supervisor to determine various other options. If it is determined that the use of respirator may be necessary, the supervisor or employee should contact EH&S to perform an exposure assessment.  An exposure assessment will determine the type of respirator that must be used for the potential airborne contaminants of concern. However, the following personnel/tasks are recognized as having the potential for exposure to airborne contaminants at concentrations above occupational exposure limits and/or that may be of concern to health and safety of workers, therefore personnel performing such tasks are recommended to use respirators.


  1. Personnel from Environmental Health &Safety (EH&S) who respond to hazardous materials spills
  2. Personnel from Institute of Comparative Medicine (ICM) as determined by the ICM Director.
  3. Personnel working in BSL-3 laboratories.
  4. Personnel working in the anatomical gift morgue.
  5. Personnel working in the Department of Pathology who pour formalin from specimen containers, in large numbers, into larger hazardous waste collection containers outside of a chemical fume hood


  1. Personnel working in New York Presbyterian Hospital patient care areas, or with patients. 
  2. Personnel working in the Emergency Department or consulting in the Emergency Department
  3. Personnel performing or assisting during a procedure on a patient with influenza
  4. Personnel entering respiratory isolation areas in New York Presbyterian Hospital or elsewhere
  5. Personnel intubating or extubating patients
  6. Personnel working with patients receiving aerosolized Ribovirin

An individual requiring a respirator must receive medical clearance from a physician or other licensed health care professional (PLHCP), be trained on proper use, limitations, care and maintenance, and fit-tested prior to use of respirator.  An individual who is not required to wear a respirator, but chooses to wear one voluntarily must comply with the requirements of Voluntary Use of N-95 Respirators, also known as OSHA Appendix D.
The use of half-face or full-face respirator on voluntary basis is not permitted.