Current NIOSH Use of IDLHs
The current NIOSH definition for an immediately dangerous to life or health condition, as given in the NIOSH Respirator Decision Logic [NIOSH 1987], is a situation "that poses a threat of exposure to airborne contaminants when that exposure is likely to cause death or immediate or delayed permanent adverse health effects or prevent escape from such an environment." It is also stated that the purpose of establishing an IDLH is to "ensure that the worker can escape from a given contaminated environment in the event of failure of the respiratory protection equipment." The NIOSH respirator decision logic uses an IDLH as one of several respirator selection criteria. Under the NIOSH respirator decision logic, "highly reliable" respirators (i.e., the most protective respirators) would be selected for emergency situations, fire fighting, exposure to carcinogens, entry into oxygen-deficient atmospheres, entry into atmospheres that contain a substance at a concentration greater than 2,000 times the NIOSH REL or OSHA PEL, and for entry into immediately dangerous to life or health conditions. These "highly reliable" respirators include either a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) that has a full facepiece and is operated in a pressure-demand or other positive-pressure mode, or a supplied-air respirator that has a full facepiece and is operated in a pressure-demand or other positive-pressure mode in combination with an auxiliary SCBA operated in a pressure-demand or other positive-pressure mode.