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Date:  August 25, 1995
For Release:  Immediately
Contact:  Julie Tisdale, NIOSH (202) 260-9727

NIOSH Change Will Save Health Care Industry Millions


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health announced today it has certified the first 13 respirators under its new testing and certification requirements and that the price estimates for this first round of respirators--some as low as $1-- should mean considerable savings for the health care industry.

NIOSH-certified respirators are used by a wide variety of workers including: hospital employees who care for patients with highly infectious tuberculosis, miners, painters, carpenters and farmers. The newly certified respirators are also intended for use in general industry settings where savings are also expected.

"The tremendous decrease in cost is welcome news," said HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala. "In a time when regulatory actions are frowned upon, this is an excellent example of how a "smart" regulation can lead to considerable savings."

The new regulation, which became effective July 10, allows for a generation of respirator filters with less leakage, more efficiency and easier breathing. Before the new regulation, the only respirator that met the filtration efficiency performance criterion outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the prevention of tuberculosis cost approximately $8.00. But the first 13 respirators certified under the new rule will range in price from less than $1 to $3.00, according to the manufacturers. All respirators certified by NIOSH under the new regulation will meet or exceed the CDC filtration efficiency performance criterion.

The exact savings to the health care industry cannot be predicted with certainty. However, a recent cost analysis of the 159 acute care inpatient Department of Veterans Affairs facilities in the U.S. suggests the VA alone may save up to $16 million annually. Given that the VA system only represents a small percentage of all hospital beds in the U.S., the savings nationwide could be extraordinary.

NIOSH Director Linda Rosenstock, M.D., M.P.H., said, "We are thrilled with the impact of this regulation. Working closely with industry and employee representatives has resulted in better protection for workers and increased savings for industry. It is no surprise that this activity was recognized by Vice President Gore with a Hammer Award for its impact on redesigning government."

The first 13 respirators certified under the new regulation were chosen randomly from the submissions received before the July 7, 1995, deadline. NIOSH is working to certify the 120 respirators currently awaiting approval. Additional certifications are expected soon.

For information on the newly certified respirators contact NIOSH at 1-800-35-NIOSH or via the NIOSH World Wide Web page (www.cdc.gov/niosh/homepage.html).

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