Respiratory Protection FAQs

Below are Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and answers about respiratory protection & the App State Respiratory Protection Program.


Q. When is the next training/fit-testing event being held?
A. EHS & EM is proud to offer training and fit-testing year round! Contact the Industrial Hygiene Manager to arrange for either.


Q. How do I make arrangements for a medical evaluation?
A. Fill out the Respiratory Protection Program form to get the process started.


Q. What are the types of respiratory protection?
A. Respiratory Protection comes in two basic types: Air Purifying Respirators (APRs) and Supplied-Air Respirators (SARs).

Air-purifying respirators (APRs) filter out, or "purify" the air before you inhale it. APRs can filter out particles (e.g. asbestos, silica, welding fume, lead-paint dust, mold spores, etc.) or chemicals (e.g. solvent vapors, ammonia gas, etc.). APRs cannot protect you if you are in an oxygen-deficient atmosphere (e.g. oxygen has been displaced by another gas such as carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide)!

APRs can be half-face elastomeric (often called "half masks"), full-face elastomeric (often called "gas masks"), or filtering facepieces (often called "dust masks").

Supplied-air respirators (SARs) actually provide you with a source of clean, fresh air. SARs are the only kind of respirator you can use in an oxygen-deficient environment. They are also necessary for some chemicals that can reach a deadly level with little advance warning, or some chemicals for which there just are not any filters that work well.

Most of us are familiar with one kind of SAR: the self-contained breathing apparatus, or "SCBA" worn by firefighters. Another kind of supplied air respirator is the kind you might see a sandblaster or vehicle painter wearing: the air comes from a big air cylinder through a long hose that hooks into the respirator.


Q. How do I know if I need respiratory protection?
A. Respirators are "required" when your exposure to a contaminant is higher than allowed by the North Carolina Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Division (NCOSHA).

If you need to find out whether your exposure might be over the allowed NCOSHA level, try your supervisor first. If he or she isn't sure, then contact the Respiratory Protection Program Manager for an evaluation.

If you work on asbestos-containing materials or lead-based paint, respirators are usually required.


Q. I am required to wear a respirator -- How do I get one?
A. If you are required to wear a respirator, you must enroll in the University's Respiratory Protection Program.

You must also enroll if you voluntarily use any kind of respirator other than a "dust mask."


Q. What if I am NOT required to wear a respirator but want to wear one anyway?
A. If you are not required to wear a respirator, but want to wear one anyway, OSHA calls this "voluntary use."

If you want to "voluntarily" use a filtering facepiece respirator (often called a "dust mask"), then you need to simply read and sign this form and send the signed form to the EHS&EM Industrial Hygiene Manager.

"Voluntary" use of any other kind of respirator is generally discouraged because it requires you to obtain a medical evaluation and undergo annual training and fit-testing. If you think you need a respirator to safely do your work, please contact the Industrial Hygiene Manager.


Q. What is the App State Respiratory Protection Program?
A. The App State Respiratory Protection Program is an OSHA-mandated program that applies to all employees, including student employees and Graduate Assistants, who wear respirators on the job.

The program has four basic components:

  1. An inital medical evaluation for all employees who wear any sort of respirator. The only employees who do not have to get a medical evaluation are employees who choose to, but are not required to, wear a filtering facepiece respirator (a.k.a. "dust mask").
  2. Follow-up medical evaluations if required by OSHA, State or University policy, or if recommended by the occupational medical provider.
  3. Annual training.
  4. Annual fit-testing, except for employees who wear loose-fitting respirators (such as a powered air purifying respirator with a hood rather than a face mask).


Q. What does it cost to participate in the App State Respiratory Protection Program?
A. Employees pay nothing to participate in the program.

The employee's department is responsible for the cost of:

  • All medical evaluations (inital & follow-up).*
  • All medical tests required by the medical provider as part of the medical evaluation.*
  • Purchasing required respirators.
  • Purchasing required filters or air supplies for required respirators.

App State EHS&EM provides annual training and fit-testing at no charge to the employee or department.

*Approximate costs of the medical evaluations, as of 2011, are listed below. These prices are always subject to change without notice.

  • Initial medical evaluation: $35 (for non-asbestos-exposed employees) or $60 (for asbestos-exposed employees).
  • Follow-up medical evaluations (usually annual or biannual, if required at all): $35 (for non-asbestos-exposed employees) or $60 (for asbestos-exposed employees).
  • Pulmonary function test (a non-invasive test in which the employee blows into a tube), if required by the medical provider: $65.*
  • Chest X-Ray, if required by the medical provider: $60.*

*For asbestos-exposed employees: OSHA requires a pulmonary function test and chest X-Ray for all initial medical evaluations. OSHA also requires annual follow-up medical evaluations, including a pulmonary function test, for these employees.

Have Questions?

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at or (828) 262-4008.