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Particulate respiratory protection - overview, emerging issues and research needs.

Rengasamy-A; Zhuang-Z; Roberge-R; Shaffer-RE
Protective Devices: Types, Uses and Safety. Argosyan VE, ed., Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers, 2010 Mar; :131-160
This chapter is a brief review of respiratory protective devices for harmful airborne particulates. Particles in the breathing air present serious health hazards to civilians and workers in occupational settings. To reduce the inhalation of particles, respiratory protection is required when other control measures are not feasible or not yet implemented. For many years respiratory protection devices were used in industrial workplace to minimize particulate exposures, then extended to other workplaces including healthcare. Respirators are required to reduce the exposure to airborne infectious diseases, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), pandemic influenza and multi-drug resistant diseases because implementation of administrative and engineering controls is not always feasible. Similarly, bioterrorism incidents involving viruses, bacteria and spores require respiratory protection. Another emerging area of concern is the recent technological developments in the nanotechnology industry for producing engineered nanomaterials. Nano-sized particles may potentially be more toxic than equal quantities of larger-sized particles. The exposure to harmful nonbiological and biological aerosols can be addressed by proper selection of air-purifying respirators (APRs) recommended by regulatory agencies and other organizations. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and other standards organizations have developed performance standards for APRs. The NIOSH-certified APRs will provide expected protection levels when properly used. However, these devices do not fit all wearers equally well and impose varying levels of discomfort when fitted to the face. Poor fit of a respirator causes face seal leakage and compromises the respiratory protection levels. To address this issue, NIOSII has recently characterized face sizes and shapes characteristic of the current U.S. work force and developed new respirator fit lest panels. Advanced respirator design for different facial features could improve respirator fit leading towards consistent protection. Also, the physiological impact of some forms of respiratory protective equipment upon wearers has not been adequately examined. Re-use of disposable equipment is also an issue of recent importance given that supplies of disposable respirators may be insufficient in a pandemic-like setting. Recent technological developments have produced nanofibers which can be employed for producing efficient filters. Similarly, antimicrobial components can be incorporated into the filter media used for respirators to kill/ inactivate the microorganisms, as they pass through or arc captured in the filter. The need for further research and developments in the different areas of respiratory protection are discussed.
Nanotechnology; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Respiratory-protection; Respirators; Airborne-particles; Particulate-dust; Particulates; Infection-control; Infectious-diseases; Viral-diseases; Viral-infections; Biological-weapons; Biohazards
Samy Rengasamy, National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 626 Cochrans Mill Road, P.O. Box 18070, Pittsburgh, PA 15236
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Protective Devices: Types, Uses and Safety
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division