Respiratory Protection

This information presents advantages and disadvantages of various types of respiratory protection devices

Disposable Particulate Respirators:

The NIOSH-certified disposable respirators labeled N, R, or P and may be obtained with or without exhalation valves. Most manufacturers also produce them in different sizes. A face shield may also be used in conjunction with a half-mask disposable respirator for protection against airborne flying material and fluids.

Advantages:

1. The respirator is disposable and most models require no cleaning or maintenance.

2. The respirator is light weight and fairly comfortable to wear.

Disadvantages:

1. The respirator is a negative-pressure device using the suction produced by inhalation to draw air through the filter. The inhalation process, even under the best of circumstances, will allow some contaminated air to leak into the face piece.

2. A respirator with exhalation valves cannot be used when working in a clean room/sterile environments. The exhalation valve allows droplets and particles exhaled by the user to escape and potentially contaminate the work area. These respirators are also available without exhalation valves.

Replaceable Particulate Filter Respirators:

Half-Mask Replaceable Particulate Filter Respirator:

This respirator has single or dual filters made of the same material as the N, R, and P disposable respirators (HEPA filters can also be used). Most manufacturers produce more than one size. A face shield may also be used in conjunction with a half-mask particulate filter respirator.

Advantages:

A. The respirator is lightweight and does not restrict mobility.

B. The respirator is made of rubber or elastomer and is durable. Only the filters need to be replaced when necessary.

Disadvantages:

1. The respirator must be routinely inspected, cleaned, disinfected, and repaired.

2. The respirator is a negative-pressure device using the suction produced by inhalation to draw air through the filter. The inhalation process, even under the best of circumstances, will allow some contaminated air to leak into the face piece.

3. Communication may be difficult.

4. The respirator cannot be used in areas where a clean or sterile field is required.

Full Face piece Replaceable Particulate Filter Respirator:

The respirator can be equipped with the N, R, or P filters (HEPA filters can also be used). It is also manufactured in more than one size.

Advantages:

1. The respirator provides a better seal than the half-mask and with HEPA or 100 series filter is more protective.

2. The respirator is durable.

3. The respirator provides eye protection.

Disadvantages:

1. The respirator cannot be used in areas where a sterile field is required.

2. The respirator must be inspected, cleaned, and repaired.

3. The respirator is a negative-pressure device using the suction produced by inhalation to draw air through the filter. The inhalation process, even under the best of circumstances, will allow some contaminated air to leak into the facepiece.

4. Communication may be difficult.

5. Special lens kits are required for those respirator users who wear glasses.

Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR)

Tight-Fitting PAPR:

Equipment is battery operated, consists of a half or full face piece, breathing tube, battery-operated blower, and particulate filters (HEPA only). A PAPR uses a blower to pass contaminated air through a HEPA filter, which removes the contaminant and supplies purified air to a face piece. A PAPR is not a true positive-pressure device because it can be over-breathed when inhaling.

Advantages:

1. The respirator is more protective than a half-mask respirator.

2. The respirator is usually more comfortable because air is forced into the mask by the blower, producing a cooling effect.

3. The respirator is durable.

4. Breathing resistance is lower.

Disadvantages:

1. The respirator cannot be used where a clean or sterile field is required because it has an exhalation valve and in some cases air can exit around the face seal.

2. Batteries must be recharged and maintained to assure proper flow rates into the mask.

3. The respirator must be inspected, cleaned, and repaired.

4. Communication may be a problem.

5. A PAPR may be bulky and noisy.

Loose Fitting PAPR:

This respirator consists of a hood or helmet, breathing tube, battery-operated blower, and HEPA filters.

Advantages:

1. More protective than a half-mask respirator.

2. The respirator is more comfortable because it is loose-fitting.

3. Provides a cooling effect in the hood or helmet.

4. The respirator is durable.

5. Breathing resistance is lower.

6. Vision may be better.

7. Can be worn with facial hair as long as facial hair does not interfere with valve or function of the respirator.

Disadvantages:

1. The equipment cannot be used where a sterile field must be maintained because air exits around the hood or helmet.

2. Batteries must be charged and maintained.

3. The respirator must be inspected, cleaned, and repaired.4. Communication may be difficult.5. A PAPR may be bulky and noisy.

Positive-Pressure Supplied-Air Respirators:

Fixed Air Supply:

Supplied-air respirators use compressed air from a stationary source delivered through a hose under pressure to a half-mask or a full face piece. A face shield may also be used in conjunction with a half-mask airline respirator for protection against body fluids.

Advantages:

1. The respirator is much more protective because it provides positive pressure in the face piece and almost all leakage is outward. A positive-pressure supplied-air respirator should be used when disposable respirators, replaceable respirators, or PAPRs do not provide adequate protection.

2. Breathing resistance is minimal.

3. The respirator is relatively comfortable to wear.

Disadvantages:

1. The airline hose restricts the user’s mobility.

2. This respirator exhausts air contaminated by the user and should not be worn during clean or sterile procedures.

3. The respirator must be inspected, cleaned, and repaired.

4. Communication may be difficult.

5. Requires installation and maintenance of a regulated compressed air supply for Grade D breathing air.

6. Maintenance requires highly skilled, technically trained personnel.

7. Length of hose and connection point must be adequate to prevent exposure to airborne contaminates when removing the respirator.

Respiratory Protection Program Evaluation:

Evaluations of the workplace are necessary to ensure that the written respiratory protection program is being properly implemented, this includes consulting with employees to ensure that they are using the respirators properly. Evaluations should be conducted to ensure that the provisions of the current written program are being effectively implemented and that it continues to be effective Program evaluation includes discussions with employees required to use respirators to assess the employees’ views on program effectiveness and to identify any problems. Factors to be assessed include, but are not limited to: Respirator fit (including the ability to use the respirator without interfering with effective workplace performance); Appropriate respirator selection for the hazards to which the employee is exposed; Proper respirator use under the workplace conditions the employee encounters; and Proper respirator maintenance.

Selection of Respirators:

The Company has evaluated the respiratory hazard(s) in each workplace, identified relevant workplace and user factors and Assigned Protection Factors and has based respirator selection on these factors. Also included are estimates of employee exposures to respiratory hazard(s) and an identification of the contaminant’s chemical state and physical form. This selection has included appropriate protective respirators for use in IDLH atmospheres, and has limited the selection and use of air-purifying respirators. All selected respirators are NIOSH-certified .

Filter Classifications:

These classifications are marked on the filter or filter package

N-Series: Not Oil Resistant

  • Approved for non-oil particulate contaminants.
  • Examples: dust, fumes, mists not containing oil

R-Series: Oil Resistant.

  • Approved for all particulate contaminants, including those containing oil
  • Examples: dusts, mists, fumes
  • Time restriction of 8 hours when oils are present

P-Series: Oil Proof

  • Approved for all particulate contaminants including those containing oil
  • Examples: dust, fumes, mists
  • See Manufacturer’s time use restrictions on packaging

Respirators for Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health(IDLH) atmospheres:

  • The following respirators will be used in IDLH atmospheres:
  • A full face piece pressure demand SCBA certified by NIOSH for a minimum service life of thirty minutes, or
  • A combination full face piece pressure demand supplied-air respirator (SAR) with auxiliary self-contained air supply.
  • Respirators provided only for escape from IDLH atmospheres shall be NIOSH-certified for escape from the atmosphere in which they will be used.

Identification of Filters & Cartridges:

All filters and cartridges shall be labeled and color coded with the NIOSH approval label and that the label is not removed and remains legible. A change out schedule for filters and canisters has been developed to ensure these elements of the respirators remain effective.

Respirator Filter & Canister Replacement

An important part of the Respiratory Protection Program includes identifying the useful life of canisters and filters used on air-purifying respirators. Each filter and canister shall be equipped with an end-of-service-life indicator (ESLI) certified by NIOSH for the contaminant; orIf there is no ESLI appropriate for conditions a change schedule for canisters and cartridges that is based on objective information or data that will ensure that canisters and cartridges are changed before the end of their service life.

Filter & Cartridge Change Schedule

Stock of spare filers and cartridges shall be maintained to allow immediate change when required or desired by the employee

Types of Fit Tests

The fit test shall be administered using an OSHA-accepted QLFT or QNFT protocol. The OSHA-accepted QLFT and QNFT protocols and procedures are contained in Appendix A of OSHA Standard 1910.134.

  • QLFT may only be used to fit test negative pressure air-purifying respirators that must achieve a fit factor of 100 or less.
  • If the fit factor, as determined through an OSHA-accepted QNFT protocol, is equal to or greater than 100 for tight-fitting half face pieces, or equal to or greater than 500 for tight-fitting full face pieces, the QNFT has been passed with that respirator.
  • Fit testing of tight-fitting atmosphere-supplying respirators and tight-fitting powered air-purifying respirators shall be accomplished by performing quantitative or qualitative fit testing in the negative pressure mode, regardless of the mode of operation (negative or positive pressure) that is used for respiratory protection.
  • Qualitative fit testing of these respirators shall be accomplished by temporarily converting the respirator user’s actual face piece into a negative pressure respirator with appropriate filters, or by using an identical negative pressure air-purifying respirator face piece with the same sealing surfaces as a surrogate for the atmosphere-supplying or powered air-purifying respirator face piece.
  • Quantitative fit testing of these respirators shall be accomplished by modifying the face piece to allow sampling inside the face piece in the breathing zone of the user, midway between the nose and mouth. This requirement shall be accomplished by installing a permanent sampling probe onto a surrogate face piece, or by using a sampling adapter designed to temporarily provide a means of sampling air from inside the face piece.
  • Any modifications to the respirator face piece for fit testing shall be completely removed, and the face piece restored to NIOSH approved configuration, before that face piece can be used in the workplace. Fit test records shall be retained for respirator users until the next fit test is administered. Written materials required to be retained shall be made available upon request to affected employees.

Respirator Cleaning Guide

1. Remove filters, cartridges, or canisters. Disassemble face pieces by removing speaking diaphragms, demand and pressure demand valve assemblies, hoses, or any components recommended by the manufacturer. Discard or repair any defective parts.  

2. Wash components in warm (43 deg. C [110 deg. F] maximum) water with a mild detergent or with a cleaner recommended by the manufacturer. A stiff bristle (not wire) brush may be used to facilitate the removal of dirt.

3. Rinse components thoroughly in clean, warm (43 deg. C [110 deg. F] maximum), preferably running water. Drain.

4. When the cleaner used does not contain a disinfecting agent, respirator components should be immersed for two minutes in one of the following:

  • Hypochlorite solution (50 ppm of chlorine) made by adding approximately one milliliter of laundry bleach to one liter of water at 43 deg. C (110 deg. F); or,
  • Aqueous solution of iodine (50 ppm iodine) made by adding approximately 0.8 milliliters of tincture of iodine (68 grams ammonium and/or potassium iodide/100 cc of 45% alcohol) to one liter of water at 43 deg. C (110 deg. F); or,
  • Other commercially available cleansers of equivalent disinfectant quality when used as directed, if their use is recommended or approved by the respirator manufacturer.

5. Rinse components thoroughly in clean, warm (43 deg. C [110 deg. F] maximum), preferably running water. Drain. The importance of thorough rinsing cannot be overemphasized. Detergents or disinfectants that dry on face pieces may result in dermatitis. In addition, some disinfectants may cause deterioration of rubber or corrosion of metal parts if not completely removed.

6. Components should be hand dried with a clean lint free cloth or air dried.

7. Reassemble face piece, replacing filters, cartridges, and canisters where necessary.

8. Test the respirator to ensure that all components work properly.

Dos and Don ts – Respiratory Protection:

• Do implement Engineering Controls to reduce/control airborne hazard before resorting to Respiratory Protection.

• Do get a Medical Evaluation at the University .

• Employee Occupational Health Clinic (UEOHC) prior to wearing a respirator. • Do get quantitatively Fit Tested by EHS staff prior to using a respirator and ANNUALLY thereafter.

• Do receive annual training and be able to demonstrate why a respirator is necessary and how improper fit, usage, or maintenance can compromise respirator effectiveness.

• Do read and understand the respirator manufacturer’s instructions with respect to maintenance, cleaning and care, limitations on use, and cartridge/canister replacement schedule.

• Do understand what contaminants and hazards you may be exposed to and ensure you are wearing the proper Respiratory Protection.

• Do know the capabilities and limitations of your respirator and what to do in an emergency situation.

• Do perform a user seal check (both positive and negative pressure tests) every time you put on your respirator.

• Do Inspect, Clean, and Sanitize respirator prior to and after each use and store in a clean, dry container/bag.

• Do use a minimum of Grade D breathing air for Supplied Air Respirators (SAR).

• Don’t wear a respirator that you have NOT been Fit Tested for and approved to wear.

• Don’t wear a tight-fitting respirator if you have facial hair growth between the face-to-face piece seal. Loose-fitting Powered Air-Purifying Respirators (PAPR) should be worn by employees with facial hair.

• Don’t use a respirator, filter, cartridge, or canister that has NOT been certified by NIOSH.

• Don’t wait until you smell a gas or vapor to change your chemical cartridge/canister.

• Don’t remove your respirator in a contaminated environment.

• Don’t use a respirator that is damaged or defective.

• Don’t attempt to repair punctured or deformed face piece.

• Don’t store a wet respirator in an air tight container. Always thoroughly dry respirator prior to storage.

• Don’t use an Air-Purifying Respirator (APR) or an airline respirator in an atmosphere that is oxygen deficient or Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH).

• Don’t enter an unknown environment without a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA).

RESPIRATORY PROTECTION SIGNAGE’S

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