Always Be Prepared: Supporting Successful PPE Stockpiling Systems

Reviewed by Clare Marlin, MS, BSN, CIC, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab

Careful inventory tracking and maintenance of personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies in stockpiles for emergent public health use impacts the optimal utilization of such PPE when it is needed. However, current United States (US) PPE stockpile inventories exhibit great heterogeneity.  Authored by Greenawald and colleagues, this survey sought to better understand US PPE stockpile inventories, storage conditions, and environmentally-varied geographic locations to support the future development of research, recommendations for performance viability of PPE from stockpiles, and guidance for policy development regarding overall management applications.  To meet the study’s goal, a national collaboration occurred with PPE partners and stakeholders, including those at the national, state, and local levels. Qualitative observations were collected by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) observers at ten stockpile site visits from August 2017 through January 2019; PPE stockpile inventories and climates, from a convenience sample of US stockpiles, were also studied.  NIOSH’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) identified air-purifying respirators (APRs), which commonly have a shelf-life of five years, and Level 3 and 4 surgical gowns as key targets since they are both stockpiled in large quantities and critical during public health emergencies. Greenawald and colleagues’ findings will be used to inform future guidance regarding US PPE stockpile preparedness. 


Greenawald, L., Moore, S., Wizner, K., & Yorio, P. (2021). Developing a methodology to collect empirical data that informs policy and practices for stockpiling personal protective equipment. American Journal of Infection Control, 49, 166-173. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2020.07.010.  

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