United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Question 418: This question refers to the answer to

Question 91 in §20.1703. Please clarify this response, as

indicated below.

(a) Can NRC envision any purpose by which a licensee can

use respiratory protection devices without having an

approved respiratory protection program, e.g., meeting the

provisions of §20.1703?

(b) For instance, work is being conducted where the

licensee has determined there is no requirement for

respiratory protection but workers prefer to use it anyway.

From the workers perspective it is for protection. From

the licensees viewpoint, it is simply for peace of mind,

with the added benefit of being an ALARA effort. Is this

usage subject to §20.1703?

Discussion: If the answer to these questions is that

§20.1703 applies to any conceivable use of respirators then

this in essence is a directive for all licensees without

approved equipment or an approved program to discard all

respiratory protection equipment. It cannot be used even

for ALARA purposes at less than DAC levels. It cannot be

kept on hand for use in emergency response situations where

any protection is useful in initial response conditions.

(Note: As a basic presumption, assume that any use of

respirators complies with the basic OSHA guidance for

medical approval.)

Answer: (a) The requirements of 10 CFR 20.1703 must be

met if the respiratory protection equipment is used to

limit intakes of radioactive material pursuant to 10 CFR

20.1702. 10 CFR 20.1703 does not apply if the respiratory

protection equipment is used for other purposes (e.g., for

protection against harmful dusts, fogs, fumes, mists,

gases, smokes, sprays, or vapors that are not radioactive);

however, OSHA regulations (which include a requirement for

a minimal acceptable respiratory protection program) do

apply to most of these uses.

(b) Yes, assuming that the equipment will be used to limit

intake, this usage is subject to 10 CFR 20.1703. The use

of respiratory protection equipment without meeting the

respiratory protection program requirements of 10 CFR

20.1703 (e.g., respirator not properly maintained, poor fit

of respirator to wearer, untrained or improperly trained

respirator user) can be hazardous to the worker, can lead

to a false sense of protection, and cannot be justified on

the basis of ALARA, worker peace of mind, or usefulness in

an emergency. (Reference: 10 CFR 20.1703).

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012