Viable viral efficiency of N95 and P100 respirator filters at constant and cyclic flow

J Occup Environ Hyg. 2013;10(10):564-72. doi: 10.1080/15459624.2013.818228.


The growing threat of an influenza pandemic presents a unique challenge to healthcare workers, emergency responders, and the civilian population. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-approved respirators to provide protection against infectious airborne viruses in various workplace settings. The filtration efficiency of selected NIOSH-approved particulate N95 and P100 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) and filter cartridges was investigated against the viable MS2 virus, a non-pathogenic bacteriophage, aerosolized from a liquid suspension. Tests were performed under two cyclic flow conditions (minute volumes of 85 and 135 L/min) and two constant flow rates (85 and 270 L/min). The mean penetrations of viable MS2 through the N95 and P100 FFRs/cartridges were typically less than 2 and 0.03%, respectively, under all flow conditions. All N95 and P100 FFR and cartridge models assessed in this study, therefore, met or exceeded their respective efficiency ratings of 95 and 99.97% against the viable MS2 test aerosol, even under the very high flow conditions. These NIOSH-approved FFRs and particulate respirators equipped with these cartridges can be anticipated to achieve expected levels of protection (consistent with their assigned protection factor) against airborne viral agents, provided that they are properly selected, fitted, worn, and maintained.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Air Microbiology*
  • Air Movements
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Filtration
  • Humans
  • Influenza A virus
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control
  • Inhalation Exposure / prevention & control*
  • Materials Testing
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S.
  • Occupational Exposure / prevention & control
  • Particle Size
  • Respiratory Protective Devices*
  • United States