Difference between NIOSH and CE Rating Systems

The CE (Conformité Européene) and NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) rating systems are distinct certification standards used for respiratory protective equipment, including masks and respirators. Here are the key differences between the two:

1. Geographical Origin:

CE Rating: CE certification is primarily used in Europe and indicates that the product complies with European Union (EU) safety standards.

NIOSH Rating: NIOSH certification is specific to the United States and is governed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a U.S. federal agency.

2. Certification Process:

CE Rating: Manufacturers seeking CE certification must demonstrate compliance with European standards through self-declaration or third-party testing.

NIOSH Rating: NIOSH involves rigorous testing and evaluation of respirators to ensure they meet specific performance criteria. This process is typically conducted by NIOSH or authorized testing laboratories. It takes an average of three months for NIOSH to approve a face mask or respirator from the time forms are submitted to certification.

Read more about How to get the NIOSH Certification?

3. Testing Criteria:

CE Rating: CE certification may cover various respiratory protection devices, and the testing criteria can vary based on the type of protection required (e.g., FFP1, FFP2, FFP3 for filtering facepiece respirators).

NIOSH Rating: NIOSH testing assesses factors such as filtration efficiency, inhalation resistance and exhalation resistance, fit, and exposure to airborne particles and valve leakage.

4. Filtration Efficiency Standards:

CE Rating: CE standards include filtration efficiency requirements for particulate matter, but the specific standards depend on the type of respiratory protection device.
NIOSH Rating: NIOSH sets specific filtration efficiency standards for particulate respirators, such as N95, N99, N100, P95, P99, and P100.

5. Fit Testing:

CE Rating: CE certification may not explicitly require fit testing, and the emphasis may vary based on the type of respirator.
NIOSH Rating: NIOSH-certified respirators often require fit testing to ensure a proper and secure fit on the wearer's face, contributing to their overall effectiveness.

6. Marking on Respirators:

CE Rating: Respirators meeting CE standards will bear the CE mark, indicating compliance with European safety regulations.
NIOSH Rating: NIOSH-certified respirators will have a NIOSH logo and an approval number on the product, indicating that they have met the stringent criteria set by NIOSH.

It's important to note that while CE and NIOSH certifications demonstrate adherence to certain safety standards, the specific requirements and testing methods may differ. Users should choose respirators based on the standards applicable to their region and the intended use of the respirator.

Here is a good read about NIOSH Certification

FFP CE vs N, R, P100 NIOSH system 

The FFP (Filtering Facepiece) CE classification and the NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) N, R, P100 system both categorize respirators based on their filtering efficiency. However, there are some key differences between the two:

1. Filtering Efficiency:

- FFP1: Filters at least 80% of airborne particles.
- FFP2: Filters at least 94% of airborne particles.
- FFP3: Filters at least 99% of airborne particles.

NIOSH N, R, P100:
- N100, R100, P100: Filters at least 99.97% of airborne particles. (These designations indicate whether the respirator is Not resistant, Resistant, or oil-Proof, respectively.)

2. Oil Resistance:

- Not specifically categorized for oil resistance.

NIOSH N, R, P100:
- N (Not resistant): Not oil-resistant.
- R (Resistant): Somewhat oil-resistant.
- P (Oil-Proof): Strongly oil-proof.

3. Usage Environment:

- Commonly used in European countries.

NIOSH N, R, P100:
- Widely used in the United States and other regions.

4. Fit Testing:

- Requires fit testing to ensure a proper seal.

- NIOSH N, R, P100:
- Also requires fit testing for an effective seal.

5. Certification Authorities:

- Certification by European standards.

- NIOSH N, R, P100:
- Certification by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

It's important to note that while both systems provide a measure of filtering efficiency, they are based on different testing standards and certifications. Users should choose respirators based on the specific requirements of their work environment and the applicable standards in their region.

CE Coding VS NIOSH Coding:

Respirator filter standards play a crucial role in safeguarding individuals against various hazards. Understanding these standards is vital for selecting the right respiratory protection equipment. We'll delve into the European standard EN14387 and the NIOSH rating system, decoding the letters, numbers, and colors that define the levels of protection.

Understanding the Codes:
Deciphering these codes is essential for users to choose the right respiratory protection based on their specific work environment. Whether it's protection against gases, vapors, or particulates, these standards ensure that individuals are equipped with the right tools for the job.

EN14387 Standard:

The European standard EN14387 employs a simple and effective system using single letters and numbers to convey the protection level against different hazards. Let's break down the code:

Code  Protect Against

Organic gases and vapors with a boiling point above 65°C

(toluene, benzene, styrene, kerosene, petrol, isobutanol)


Inorganic gases and vapors 

( fluorine, chlorine, hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen chloride)


Acid gases and vapors

(carbon dioxide, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, formic acid, hydrogen fluoride)


Ammonia and organic amines

(methylamine, ethylamine, dimethylamine)


Solid particles in the form of liquid and solid aerosols

(dust, smoke, fibers, bacteria, viruses, and radioactive particles)

For instance, a filter canister labeled "A1B1E1K1P3" provides protection against organic vapor, inorganic vapor, acidic gases, ammonia and derivatives, and particulates, each at a specified level.

NIOSH Rating System:

Contrasting with the European standard, NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) employs a system that combines colors, abbreviations, and numbers to categorize filters. Here's the breakdown of NIOSH color codes:

- Black: Organic Vapor (OV)
- White: Acidic Gas (AG)
- Green: Ammonia (AM)
- Yellow: Organic Vapor and Acidic Gas (OV AG)
- Olive: Multigas (OV AG and AM)

These color codes are typically displayed on the filter cartridges. For example, a black-colored filter indicates protection against organic vapor, while a yellow-colored one provides defense against both organic vapor and acidic gas.

NIOSH CBRN vs CE CBRN vs Independently Tested:

NIOSH CBRN Certification:
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) sets the standard for respiratory protection in the United States. NIOSH CBRN certification signifies that a respirator has been specifically tested and approved for protection against Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) hazards. This rigorous testing ensures that the respirator meets stringent performance criteria, providing users with confidence in its effectiveness.

CE CBRN Certification:
Conversely, the CE (Conformité Européenne) certification is a European standard. CE CBRN certification indicates that a respirator complies with European Union regulations for protection against CBRN threats. While NIOSH and CE certifications share commonalities, they differ in testing methodologies and criteria. CE CBRN-certified respirators are evaluated based on European standards, ensuring their suitability for use within the EU.

Independently Tested Respirators:
Apart from NIOSH and CE certifications, some respirators undergo independent testing by third-party organizations. These tests are conducted by entities not affiliated with government agencies or certification bodies, providing an additional layer of scrutiny. Independently tested respirators demonstrate a commitment to transparency and quality assurance, as their performance is verified by external experts.

Key Considerations:

Performance Standards: NIOSH CBRN and CE CBRN certifications adhere to specific performance standards set by their respective authorities. Independently tested respirators may follow standardized guidelines or undergo custom evaluations, depending on the testing organization's criteria.

Global Recognition: NIOSH CBRN is primarily recognized in the United States, while CE CBRN is accepted within the European Union. Independently tested respirators may gain recognition based on the reputation and global acceptance of the testing entity.

Stringency of Testing: NIOSH and CE certifications involve rigorous testing procedures to ensure the effectiveness of respirators. Independently tested respirators may undergo a range of tests depending on the testing organization, potentially exceeding the requirements of official certifications.


When selecting a CBRN respirator, considering the certifications is crucial. NIOSH CBRN and CE CBRN certifications provide standardized benchmarks, while independently tested respirators offer an alternative approach to validation. Ultimately, users should prioritize respirators with certifications or independent testing that aligns with their geographical location, industry standards, and the specific hazards they may encounter. Stay informed, stay protected!

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