When working in a construction site or any area where there’s a lot of dust or harmful chemical around you, using a respirator becomes a must. That’s because inhaling chemicals is dangerously harmful. We need to know that chemicals can get inside our body in five ways: inhalation, absorption, ingestion, injection, and ocular absorption.
In the USA, around 5 million workers get to work in gaseous plumes or clouds of dust. Working in such a hazardous environment requires everyone there to wear respirators. This device protects the user’s lungs from harmful agents in the work area, such as toxic gases, dust, particulate matter, and other dangerous agents.
Respirators come in various types and, the one you need depends on the type of work you do. In this article, we are going to discuss different types of respirators. Let’s get started.
History of Respirator
If we trace the history of respiratory equipment, we will have to go back to the first century. A man named Pliny the Elder first brought the idea of the respiratory system using animal bladder skin as protection from red lead oxide dust for Roman mine workers.
The great inventor Leonardo da Vinci came with another idea using a finely woven cloth dipped in water to protect the sailors from toxic weapons. In 1785 Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier finally designed a fully functioning respirator.
Today’s most popular respiratory mask N95 was introduced by a Chinese doctor Lien-teh Wu. It was the first mask that was able to keep the user safe from bacteria in empirical testing.
The NIOSH and Bureau of Mines came up with single-use respirators in the 1970s. The first world war was a strong driving force behind the development of a more advanced respiratory system.
Types of Respirators
In general, there are two main types of respirators: air-supplying and air-purifying. Let’s get to know them in detail:
Supplied-air respirators are also known as air-line respirators. You will need this device in any place where the air is not safe to breathe. It has an air hose which supplies air from outside the danger area.
It’s almost like a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). The users of SCABA get to carry the air needed in tanks. On the other hand, SAR uses need to get it from a stationary air supply added to them using a hose. SARs are easy to carry for the user as they are lightweight but, they may tether the user.
The user will not run out of oxygen when the tank gets empty, like in SCBAs. So, you can use them for longer work periods. This type of respirator’s mask end doesn’t require much maintenance as SCABA. But when it comes to the tank and air compressor, you have to conduct regular maintenance and monitoring.
You need to make sure that they are functioning normally and delivering good air. Keep that in mind if somehow the air supply line gets pinched shut or cut, you will not find any air to breathe. This respirator provides the user with a constant fresh air supply totally separated from the hazardous air.
Advantages of Air-supplying Respirator
- Comes at an affordable price and easy using method.
- Very easy to maintain.
- Provides safe air for workers in a hazardous environment.
- Cools the air.
- Modular design offers different combinations of supply.
Air-purifying respirator functions by drawing the users’ air surrounding and purifying it before letting it go to the users’ nose. This type of respirator is used to get protection from hazardous gases, particulates, and vapors at atmospheric concentrations, stuff that can cause immediate death if they get inside users’ lungs.
This respirator can function following one or two types of filtrations. Its mechanical filters can retain particulate matter and, the chemical cartridges can retain gases, volatile organic compounds, and any other vapors around. Air-purifying respirators have different forms, such as filtering facepiece respirator, elastomeric respirator, and powered air-purifying respirator.
The NIOSH Respirator Selection Logic says air-purifying respirators are suggested only in places where the concentration of hazardous gases or particulates is greater than the relevant occupational exposure limit but not higher than the immediately dangerous to life or health level.
If the substances in your workplace are hazardous to the eyes, you will have to wear a full facepiece and helmet with a respirator. This type of respirator is not recommended for firefighters or in any oxygen-deficient atmosphere. You have to use self-contained breathing apparatus in such places.
Advantages of Air-purifying Respirator
- It offers easier breathing.
- Wearing it for a long time won’t make you feel uncomfortable.
- Offers integrated protection.
- Lessens the risk of any eye injury.
- No issues with facial hair.
Frequently Asked Question And Answer
What If I don’t wear a respirator in a hazardous environment?
If you don’t wear a respirator where you should be, you will face different types of health risks. Even if you have to deal with the short-term effect of being vulnerable to any poor oxygen condition, you will have to deal with some health issues. For instance, labored breathing, lack of coordination, fatigue, headache, accelerated heartbeat, dizziness, etc.
What happens If I stay in a hazardous environment for a long time without wearing a respirator?
In such a case, it may turn out to be extremely dangerous for that person. In addition, being in such an environment for a long time without wearing the respirator may lead him to long-term health issues such as lung impairment, cancer, and respiratory disease.
What are the prices of respirators?
Well, it totally depends on the category and quality of that respirator. You may find some within 30$ and, some even may cost you around 4000$. For example, N95 Face Mask may cost you around 5-10$.
If you have been working in any construction site or any place where you get to deal with loads of dust or gases, then you must be familiar with respirators. And if you are not well, you must get one immediately and sue your employer for not following the worker’s safety code.
Wearing the proper respirator can protect you from almost all kinds of hazardous stuff that may reach you harm. So, we would like to remind you not to take off your respirator in any condition when you are exposed to any hazardous gases or particles.
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