Choosing the Proper Equipment
Hazardous Sources and Their Contaminants
Places Where You Can Buy Respiratory Equipment
Respiratory Equipment Safety
In Case of Emergency
Who Needs Respiratory Protection?
If you work in any one of these situations and do not wear some form of respiratory protection, then you are placing yourself at risk for serious lung diseases or even death.
You may encounter a range of health problems from minor, temporary discomfort caused by allergic reactions to fatal asphyxiation depending upon the work environment and the hazards presented.
In each of these cases, however, proper respiratory equipment can protect you. Using such equipment is not the only means of protection in all of these cases, but it is a practical solution to safeguard and even improve your health.Choosing the Proper Equipment
There are several types of protective equipment available for all tasks. They are broken down into two categories:
Air Purifying Respiratory Protection Mechanical filter respiratory protection devices are commonly known as dust masks. These simple filters commonly consist of a molded filter designed to cover the nose and mouth. The filter is held in place by one or two elastic straps that are stretched over the head. Some of these type masks have a valve made into the filtering substance to allow easier breathing. When the filter becomes clogged, the complete unit is discarded. Units having two straps fit better.
Dust masks provide protection against airborne dust particles (chemical, mineral, field or barn, chaff, pollen) and non-toxic paint spray dusts. Sufficient levels of oxygen must be present in the air to be filtered.
Chemical Cartridge Respirators Chemical cartridge respirators provide a higher level of protection than dust masks. A soft rubber-like face piece (silicone) covers the nose and mouth and contains valves to control air movement through the device. A full face respirator also contains a lens to cover the eyes. Replaceable cartridges containing activated carbon are used to filter the incoming air. Prefilters are usually installed on the outside of the cartridges. Elastic straps or harness are used to hold the respirator snugly against the user's face. A half mask covers only the nose and mouth of the user. A full face respirator also includes an eye shield and covers the entire face and eyes.
The user must anticipate the type of hazard to be protected against and purchase the correct cartridges. Most cartridges are designed to provide protection for a specific type of chemical hazard such as pesticides, ammonia, anhydrous ammonia, etc. Sufficient levels of oxygen must be present in the air to be filtered.
Gas Masks Gas masks have full face coverage. The filtering cartridge or canister has a larger capacity than a cartridge type respirator. The cartridge may be mounted on the face piece or at the end of a flexible hose to allow mounting at the user's belt. Sufficient levels of oxygen must be present in the air where gas masks are used.
Gas masks provide protection against pesticides, and often toxic airborne materials. The greater capacity of gas mask cartridges (canisters) allows longer working times in high levels of contaminants than typical respirators.
Supplied-Air Respiratory Protection Supplied-air respirators provide fresh air from a remote source or from pressurized tanks. The face pieces are similar to cartridge type respirators or gas masks. The air may be supplied by a portable air compressor or pressure tanks located up to 300 feet from the user. Compressors must be located in a clean air area.
Supplied-air respirators can be used in confined spaces where there is likely to be an inadequate level of oxygen.
SELF-CONTAINED BREATHING APPARATUS (SCBA) is a type of respirator that has full face coverage and an oxygen supply contained in a compressed air tank carried on the users back. It can be used in oxygen deficient areas and in hazardous atmospheres.
A self-contained breathing apparatus can be used where ever the user must work, such as in silos, manure pits, grain storage and fumigation of structures.
Sources and Their Contaminants
The table below identifies some common hazardous sources and their potential contaminants. It briefly summarizes situations where you should use protective equipment to guard against dangerous elements that may be present in the listed work environments--YOUR work environment.
|SILAGE||MANURE PITS||CONFINED POULTRY HOUSING||CONFINED HOG HOUSING||PESTICIDES|
feathers and feather particles
dried skin material
dried fecal material
dried feed products
hair and skin particles
dried feed products
dried fecal particles
If you are not sure which type of protective equipment is best for the work you do, then ask the professionals who sell the various products.
Where You Can Buy Respiratory Equipment
You can probably find most types of equipment at a safety supply store, but farm supply stores and agricultural chemical suppliers are also good sources. If any of these suppliers do not have the equipment you need, they can likely order it for you or tell you how you can order it yourself. Places that test-fit the respiratory device to ensure a proper fit are the best places to purchase your equipment.
For information concerning the selection and use of respiratory equipment, contact local agricultural stores, safety supply stores, pesticide sales outlets, or the Virginia Cooperative Extension.
Respiratory equipment can safeguard your health and save your life in any hazardous air condition you may encounter. However, without proper care and precautions when using such equipment, the device you rely on could be ineffective. Here is a list of guidelines and precautions every worker should follow when using protective equipment.
2) Negative Fit Check. Cover the cartridge(s) with your hands and inhale -- if the mask is drawn tightly to your face, there is no leakage.
If you are using a pre-filter for more than five or six hours a day, then you should change the filter daily. It is important to change filter cartridges before breathing becomes difficult.
Caution: Often, it is necessary to use other protective equipment and clothing when using respiratory protective equipment, such as special gloves, eye protection, and long sleeve shirts.
| In Case
If you suddenly feel SICK, DIZZY or CANNOT BREATHE properly, leave the hazardous area immediately. If someone else is overcome by toxic gases:
2. Remove the victim to fresh air.
Glen H. Hetzel, Extension Agricultural Engineer Virginia Tech
Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More