OHS Canada Magazine

CSA Group releases new national standard on performance of filtering respirators

Made-in-Canada standard incorporates quantitative fit testing, shelf life, comfort and breathability requirements


Shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for a domestic supply of filtering respirators in Canada that meet required performance and quality requirements to protect Canadians.

In response to this need, CSA Group has published CSA Z94.4.1:21 Performance of Filtering Respirators, a new National Standard of Canada that specifies performance and testing requirements for filtering type respirators.

The new National Standard of Canada is intended to support the implementation of a Canadian certification program, eventually replacing the Health Canada Guidance on safety and performance specifications for filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) during COVID-19 issued in 2020 which was intended to provide immediate resolution to critical product approval and supply issues.

The guidance provides classification of respirator types and performance criteria to allow certification of respirators following requirements approved by the United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) with some additional requirements.

Given the trust and familiarity that Canadian regulators, suppliers and user communities have with NIOSH, an objective of CSA Z94.4.1:21 is to align with NIOSH requirements, while addressing some of the specific needs and requirements identified during COVID-19.

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Some of the key additions include:

  • Fit testing: A quantitative fit test requirement is included, with emphasis on serving the needs of the user population and includes an ergonomic and comfort assessment.
  • Air flow resistance and breathability: Additional classes with lower airflow resistance have been introduced as options to address breathability and comfort.
  • Fluid and flammability resistance: Fluid and flammability resistance has been added to address medical and surgical use applications.
  • Shelf life: Requirement included for manufacturers to provide validation of the chosen lifetime.

The first edition of CSA Z94.4.1:21 covers filtering respirators for particulate matter only, addressing the priority need resulting from COVID-19, most notably the needs of Canadian health care and essential workers.

“Building a strong and self-sufficient PPE product ecosystem will depend on how successfully we can develop and implement a Canadian certification and testing program,” says David Weinstein, president and CEO of CSA Group.

“CSA Z94.4.1:21 is a made-in-Canada standard that builds on the strength of NIOSH requirements, while addressing the specific needs of our frontline workers brought to life during the pandemic. We’re optimistic that local jurisdictions across Canada will recognize this need and consider adopting the new National Standard into legislation.”

To develop the new National Standard, CSA Group worked collaboratively with key stakeholders, including government, academia, end-users, and respirator manufacturers.

CSA Z94.4.1:21 is currently available in English only. A French version of the standard will follow in early 2022.