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In-depth survey report: comparison of biohazard detection system capture efficiencies of an existing advanced facer canceller system and a prototype advanced facer canceller system 200 configuration at U.S. Postal Service Santa Ana Processing & Distribution Center Santa Ana, CA.

Hammond DR; Garcia A; Marlow D; Ramsey Farwick D; Feng HA
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, EPHB 279-24a, 2009 Aug; :1-31
Researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducted an evaluation of the Biohazard Detection System (BDS) and the Ventilation/Filtration System (VFS) developed for the United States Postal Service (USPS) mail processing equipment - the Automated Facer Canceller System (AFCS). The testing described in this report is to validate that the changes to the new prototype AFCS 200 such as belt speeds, pulley sizes, and enclosures, do not negatively impact BDS and VFS functionality. To evaluate this, an existing AFCS and prototype AFCS 200 were tested side by side at the USPS P&DC in Santa Ana, California. The BDS and VFS were developed and installed by private contractors hired by the USPS to reduce the potential for employee exposure to harmful substances that could be contained in mail processed by the equipment. The VFS for the AFCS was designed to be used with a BDS that samples and analyzes air from the AFCS to determine if a biohazard is present. This effort is in response to terrorist attacks in the fall of 2001 that used the mail as a delivery system for anthrax. Since 2001, NIOSH researchers have tested the effectiveness of controls for the AFCS and other mail processing machinery at USPS Processing and Distribution Centers (P&DC) in Ohio and in the Washington DC area. Evaluations were based on a variety of tests including tracer gas experiments, air velocity measurements, and smoke release observations. The experiments showed that capture efficiencies measured from both the BDS and VFS were statistically significantly higher for the prototype AFCS 200 than for the existing APCS. On each machine, BDS capture efficiencies were statistically significantly higher when the BDS flow rate was set to 400 lpm compared to when it was set to 200 lpm. However, the lowest mean BDS capture efficiency of the prototype AFCS 200 was 59%, which is still higher than the highest mean BDS capture efficiencies of the existing AFCS at either BDS flow rate which was 51 %. The higher capture efficiencies of the prototype AFCS 200 compared to the existing AFCS were likely due to the more enclosed design, baffles, and modifications to air flow outside of the BDS hood. Based on the results of this testing, it is expected that the prototype AFCS 200 design would have improved capabilities of detecting a biological hazard and protecting workers compared to the existing AFCS design. Smoke release experiments and velocity measurements were consistent with the results of tracer gas testing. The USPS should consider additional tracer gas, smoke, and air velocity testing if a production AFCS 200 is developed from the prototype AFCS 200.
Engineering-controls; Control-systems; Control-technology; Region-9; Biological-warfare-agents; Postal-employees; Ventilation; Ventilation-equipment; Gas-sampling; Filtration; Equipment-design; Biohazards; Air-flow; Air-quality-monitoring; Sulfur-compounds; Ventilation-hoods; Smoke-control; Exhaust-ventilation; Machine-operation; Emergency-response
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Applied Research and Technology, Engineering and Physical Hazards Branch, Mail Stop R-5, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226-1998
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Field Studies; Control Technology
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Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division