Protecting Health Care Workers from Airborne Transmissible Diseases – New Report Dec. 6

Preparing for and responding to a future influenza pandemic or to a sustained outbreak of an airborne transmissible disease requires a high-level commitment to respiratory protection for health care workers across the wide range of jobs and work settings.  For example, in response to respirator shortages during the 2009 influenza pandemic, the Strategic National Stockpile distributed more than 85.1 million disposable filtering facepiece respirators (sometimes referred to as N95s), which was in addition to the inventory that hospitals and other health care facilities already had in stock or had acquired through normal supply chains.

Reusable half-facepiece elastomeric respirators are the standard respiratory protection device used in many industries, especially for industrial purposes, yet their use in health care has not been fully explored.  A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine examines the efficacy and practicability of using these reusable respirators on a routine basis and during a public health emergency.  It also looks at logistical, economic, and policy challenges and opportunities, as well as issues regarding personnel proficiency, proper use, and acceptance of elastomeric respirators in the U.S. health care system. 

Advance copies of Reusable Elastomeric Respirators in Health Care: Considerations for Routine and Surge Use will be available to reporters only beginning at noon EST on Wednesday, Dec. 5.  The report is embargoed and not for public release before 11 a.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 6.  To request a copy of the report, please contact the National Academies' Office of News and Public Information; tel. 202-334-2138 or e-mail