DEEPWATER HORIZON RESPONSE

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.

Page last reviewed: May 15, 2018 (archived document)