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Particle release from respirators, part I: determination of the effect of particle size, drop height, and load.

Birkner JS; Fung D; Hinds WC; Kennedy NJ
J Occup Environ Hyg 2011 Jan; 8(1):1-9
In late 2001, some U.S. Postal Service workers and a few members of Congress were exposed to anthrax spores. This led to an increased effort to develop employable methods to protect workers from exposure to anthrax. Some investigations focused on selection and use of respirators to protect workers against airborne anthrax. The present study evaluated the potential for several types of half-mask respirators to release deposited particles. Four brands of the most commonly used filtering facepiece respirators (hereafter termed masks) were loaded with 0.59-µm, 1.0-µm, and 1.9-µm polystyrene latex (PSL) microspheres (nominally 0.6, 1.0, and 2.0 µm) and then dropped onto a rigid surface. The load conditions were 10, 20, or 40 million particles, and drop heights were 0.15, 0.76, and 1.37 m. For the average conditions of 0.76 m, 1.15 µm size and 22 million particles loaded, the average particle release was 0.604 particles per 10,000 (95% CI: .552, .662) particles loaded for all of the filtering facepieces tested. The averaging of conditions is a useful tool to provide generalized information and is also useful when making risk estimates. For most filtering facepiece respirators, particle release tended to increase with drop height and particle size, and there appeared to be a slight inverse relationship with particle load. Two brands of reusable elastomeric half-mask respirators with P100 high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter cartridges were also evaluated. Results of these tests were inconclusive. Part II in this issue addresses the release of particles when simulating removal of a filtering facepiece from a wearer's head.
Airborne-particles; Exposure-assessment; Face-masks; Filter-materials; Filters; Microscopic-analysis; Particle-aerodynamics; Particulate-dust; Particulates; Personal-protective-equipment; Protective-equipment; Respirators; Respiratory-equipment; Risk-analysis; Risk-factors; Safety-education; Statistical-analysis; Viral-diseases; Work-analysis; Worker-motivation; Work-practices; Author Keywords: filters; particles; release
Jeffrey S. Birkner, UCLA, Environmental Health Sciences, 56-070 CHS, Box 951772, Los Angeles, CA 90095
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Journal Article
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Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
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University of California Los Angeles
Page last reviewed: September 23, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division