A study of the protection provided by the Racal Airstream-AH5 (Racal) and 3M-W-316 (3M) air purifying respirators against airborne lead (7439921) dust and mist was conducted. Twenty four workers at a lead battery manufacturing facility (SIC-3691) wore the respirators over a full shift while working on the lead acid plate production line. The respirators were equipped with helmets and face shields and utilized Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and NIOSH approved dust and mist filters. Inside and outside air samples were collected over the shift and analyzed for lead. Time weighted average (TWA) exposures were collected from the data. Workplace protection factors (WPFs) were computed and used as a measure of respirator performance. Geometric lead concentrations measured inside the Racal and 3M facepieces were 2.0 and 1.8 micrograms per cubic meter (microg/m3), respectively. The geometric mean of airborne lead in the ambient air was 237microg/m3. The geometric mean WPF for the Racal was 120 and the 3M was 135. The authors conclude that the Racal and 3M when equipped with helmet, face shield and MSHA/NIOSH approved dust and mist filters are capable of reducing occupational lead exposures to concentrations significantly below the OSHA standard of 50microg/m3 as a time weighted average.
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