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The effects of organic vapors on the efficiency of electrostatic respirator filter media.

Martin S; Wigal T; Moyer E
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 1-6, 2002, San Diego, California. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2002 Jun; :97-98
New 42 CFR 84 electrostatic non-powered, air-purifying respirator filters, approved for use in conjunction with organic vapor cartridges, were tested for filter efficiency degradation resulting from organic vapor exposures. N-, R-, and P-series filters were exposed to saturated organic vapors for varying amounts of time to determine a worst-case degradation profile. Isopropanol, ethyl acetate, acetone and pentane vapors were used because of their prevalence in the workplace. The electrostatic filters were also tested in a flow-through configuration against isopropanol vapor at Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH) concentrations (2000 ppm) over an 8-hour shift. The IDLH concentration is the highest concentration in which these respirators could be used. Filters loaded with sodium chloride aerosol and silica dust were also exposed in the flow-through system to determine if aerosol loading has an impact on filter efficiency degradation. After vapor exposure, the filters were tested on a TSI 8130 against NaCI aerosol (N-series filters) or a TSI 8110 against DOP aerosol (R- and P-series filters) for aerosol penetration. Aerosol penetration was used as a surrogate for filter efficiency degradation because there is currently no way of measuring the electrostatic charge distribution on the filters. Electrostatic N-, R-, and P- series filters show filter efficiency degradation resulting in aerosol penetrations of over 70 percent when exposed to saturated isopropanol vapor. Filters were degraded by the other saturated vapors, but not to the extent of the saturated isopropanol. The filters tested using the flow-through system showed very little, if any, efficiency degradation, even when aerosol loading on the filter was present. This research shows that electrostatic respirator filters can be degraded by these organic vapors at saturation concentrations. However this degradation is not a concern because workplace concentrations will be much lower than saturation.
Organic-vapors; Respirators; Air-purifiers; Air-purification; Filters; Exposure-levels; Silica-dusts; Particulate-dust; Particulates; Personal-protective-equipment; Protective-equipment; Respiratory-protective-equipment
67-63-0; 141-78-6; 67-64-1
Publication Date
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NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Research Tools and Approaches: Control Technology and Personal Protective Equipment
Source Name
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 1-6, 2002, San Diego, California
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division