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Clinical Pulmonary Function and the Physiological Effects of Using Industrial Respirators.

Raven PB
NIOSH 1980 Sep:203-245
The physiological effects of using industrial respirators were investigated in men and women with normal pulmonary functions or mild pulmonary impairment. Subjects were evaluated on a series of standardized pulmonary function tests both with and without an industrial respirator. The physiological responses of normal subjects and subjects with mild pulmonary impairment to demand air purifying respirator wear were evaluated at three different workloads. These tests included resting electrocardiograms prior to exercise tests, use of the Balke maximal stress test protocol, and submaximal exercise tests performed either wearing a demand respirator full face mask or using a mouthpiece and nose clip for data collection. The normal subjects had significantly greater forced vital capacities (FVC) than the impaired subjects, and the respiratory mask significantly reduced the FVC of both groups. Mask wear also significantly decreased the forced inspiratory vital capacity for both groups. The use of the respirator resulted in greater reduction of pulmonary functions for normal subjects compared to that of impaired subjects in pulmonary tests of dynamic function. Both normal and slightly impaired subjects experienced slight reductions in peak inspiratory flows and slight increases in cardiovascular work when the respirator was worn during exercise. There were also large changes in pressure across the mouthpiece during exercise. Both groups perceived their breathing and their workloads to be harder during respirator use for each given workload, but there was no difference between the two groups. The authors conclude that the workload to be performed during respirator use is an important component of the psychophysiological response of the worker; psychophysiological responses may become disproportionate to the metabolic stress above the 80 percent maximal aerobic capacity workload; and a simple performance test such as an exercise stress test may be an adequate clinical screening test for respirator wear during various work tasks.
Physiology; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Lung-disorders; Pulmonary-function; Electrophysiological-measurements;
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NIOSH Division
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Papers from the NIOSH International Respirator Research Workshop, September 9-11, 1980, Division of Safety Research, NIOSH, Morgantown, WV
Page last reviewed: February 11, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division