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Comparison of workplace protection factors for different biological contaminants.

Cho KJ; Reponen T; McKay R; Dwivedi A; Adhikari A; Singh U; Shukla R; Jones S; Jones G; Grinshpun SA
J Occup Environ Hyg 2011 Jul; 8(7):417-425
This study compared workplace protection factors (WPFs) for five different contaminants (endotoxin, fungal spores, (1-->)-ß-D-glucan, total particle mass, and total particle number) provided by an N95 elastomeric respirator (ER) and an N95 filtering facepiece respirator (FFR). We previously reported size-selective WPFs for total particle numbers for the ER and FFR, whereas the current article is focused on WPFs for bioaerosols and total particle mass. Farm workers (n = 25) wore the ER and FFR while performing activities at eight locations representing horse farms, pig barns, and grain handling facilities. For the determination of WPFs, particles were collected on filters simultaneously inside and outside the respirator during the first and last 15 min of a 60-min experiment. One field blank per subject was collected without actual sampling. A reporting limit (RL) was established for each contaminant based on geometric means (GMs) of the field blanks as the lowest possible measurable values. Depending on the contaminant type, 38-48% of data points were below the RL. Therefore, a censored regression model was used to estimate WPFs (WPF(censored)). The WPF(censored) provided by the two types of respirators were not significantly different. In contrast, significant differences were found in the WPF(censored) for different types of contaminants. GMs WPFs(censored) for the two types of respirators combined were 154, 29, 18, 19, and 176 for endotoxin, fungal spore count, (1-->3)-ß-D-glucan, total particle mass, and total particle number, respectively. The WPF(censored) was more strongly associated with concentrations measured outside the respirator for endotoxin, fungal spores, and total particle mass except for total particle number. However, when only data points with outside concentrations higher than 176×RL were included, the WPFs increased, and the association between the outside concentrations and the WPFs became weaker. Results indicate that difference in WPFs observed between different contaminants may be attributed to differences in the sensitivity of analytical methods to detect low inside concentrations, rather than the nature of particles (biological or non-biological).
Aerosol-particles; Aerosols; Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-workers; Airborne-dusts; Airborne-particles; Bioaerosols; Biological-effects; Dust-particles; Face-masks; Farmers; Mathematical-models; Particle-aerodynamics; Particle-counters; Particulates; Particulate-sampling-methods; Personal-protective-equipment; Protective-equipment; Quantitative-analysis; Respirators; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Risk-analysis; Risk-factors; Safety-measures; Safety-research; Statistical-analysis; Work-environment; Work-operations; Work-organization; Work-performance; Workplace-studies; Author Keywords: agriculture; bioaerosol; respirator; workplace protection factor
Tiina Reponen, University of Cincinnati, Department of Environmental Health, P.O. Box 670056, 3223 Eden Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45267-0056
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Grant-Number-R01-OH-004085; Grant-Number-T42-OH-008432; B11232011
Issue of Publication
Priority Area
Research Tools and Approaches: Control Technology and Personal Protective Equipment; Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
Source Name
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Performing Organization
University of Cincinnati
Page last reviewed: March 18, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division