Written on Thursday, March 26, 2009
Complete respiratory protection is crucial in any environment where there are hazardous airborne chemicals or particles present. Protection can be achieved by wearing an appropriate face mask and filter system. There are many things to consider when choosing your respiratory protection system. Most importantly, should you use a traditional face mask respirator, or opt for the PAPR?
A Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) is a motorized system that uses a filter to clean ambient air before it is delivered to the breathing zone of the user. A PAPR system typically includes a blower, battery, headpiece and a breathing tube.
Unlike traditional face masks where the user must exert effort to breathe through a filter, a PAPR has a battery powered air pump that drives air through a filter system, and delivers it straight into the face mask to the user. Also, the air delivered by a PAPR into the headpiece is actually cool, not hot or sticky. This is the major benefit of using a PAPR over a regular face mask respirator: because the user does not have to work to breathe in air through the filter in a PAPR, fatigue will not set in nearly as quickly as it would when wearing a traditional mask.
Another benefit of the PAPR is fit testing (or lack there of). When wearing one of the loose-fitting hoods on a PAPR, no fit testing is required. And, workers do not have to shave facial hair in order to use the PAPR. This is not possible when using traditional face masks for respiratory protection.
Finally, a PAPR is actually lighter then other face masks because the heavy components – such as the battery pack, blower, and filters – are mounted and worn on a belt. The mask of a PAPR is much lighter than regular models, making them comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
Written By: Carissa Kelley
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