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DEEPWATER HORIZON RESPONSE

NOTE: This page is archived for historical purposes and is no longer being maintained or updated.

NIOSH Interim Respiratory Protection Recommendations for Deepwater Horizon Response Workers

Location Hazard Identification Respirator Needed? Recommended Type
Source:
Near damaged well
VOCs*, crude oil, dispersant When:
  • Anticipate exposure to fresh crude oil, benzene, dispersant
  • Air sampling data indicate need for use
  • Symptoms or health effects reported
  • Full facepiece elastomeric with Combo OV/P100.
Off shore:
Burning oil
VOCs, smoke, soot, partially oxidized fuel, metals (V, Cr, Ni); CO, CO2, and NOx; Fire hazards When:
  • Wind shifts put workers in plume
  • Air sampling data indicate need for use
  • Symptoms or health effects reported
  • In conjunction with an escape plan:
    Flame-resistant clothing; NIOSH-approved escape respirator; need OV and particle (P100 or HE) protections.
  • For continuing operations:
    Flame resistant clothing; Hooded PAPR or Full facepiece or half facepiece with goggles. Need OV and particle (P100 or HE) protections.
Off shore:
Not burning oil
VOC When:
  • Air sampling data indicate need for use
  • Symptoms or health effects reported
  • Half facepiece elastomeric with OV cartridge.
Shoreline and marsh Oil mist, tar and surface contamination When:
  • Visual observation of oil mist
  • Pressure washing in progress
  • Symptoms or health effects reported
  • P100 if oil mist present (e.g. from pressure washing).
  • Eye and skin protection needed.
  • Remove symptomatic patients for medical evaluation

 

Decontamination of PPE, vessels, and equipment (e.g., booms) Oil mist, tar and surface contamination When:
  • Visual observation of oil mist
  • Pressure washing in progress
  • Use P100 if oil mist present (e.g. from pressure washing).
  • Eye and skin protection needed.

 

Decontamination of Wildlife Spray from struggling birds; ammonia, injury hazards from pecking and talon scratches; VOCs When:
  • Visual observation of oil mist
  • If wildlife heavily coated with fresh crude oil.
  • Protective gown, gloves, and face shields.
  • If potential crude oil exposure, use half facepiece with OV cartridge.

 

SOURCE: NIOSH/OSHA Interim Guidance for Protecting Deepwater Horizon Workers and Volunteers, https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/oilspillresponse/protecting/.

*Abbreviations: CO = carbon monoxide; CO2 = carbon dioxide; Cr = chromium; HE = high efficiency; Ni = nickel; NOx = oxides of nitrogen (e.g. nitric oxide or nitrogen dioxide); OV = organic vapor; P100 = NIOSH-approved particulate filtering respirator that is strongly resistant to oil and filters at least 99.97% of airborne particles; PAPR=Powered Air-Purifying Respirator; PPE = personal protective equipment; V = vanadium; VOCs = volatile organic compounds.

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