Workplace performance of a loose-fitting powered air purifying respirator during nanoparticle synthesis
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Nanoparticle (particles with diameter ≤100 nm) exposure is recognized as a potentially harmful size fraction for pulmonary particle exposure. During nanoparticle synthesis, the number concentrations in the process room may exceed 10 × 106 cm−3. During such conditions, it is essential that the occupants in the room wear highly reliable high-performance respirators to prevent inhalation exposure. Here we have studied the in-use program protection factor (PPF) of loose-fitting powered air purifying respirators, while workers were coating components with TiO2 or Cu x O y nanoparticles under a hood using a liquid flame spray process. The PPF was measured using condensation particle counters, an electrical low pressure impactor, and diffusion chargers. The room particle concentrations varied from 4 × 106 to 40 × 106 cm−3, and the count median aerodynamic diameter ranged from 32 to 180 nm. Concentrations inside the respirator varied from 0.7 to 7.2 cm−3. However, on average, tidal breathing was assumed to increase the respirator concentration by 2.3 cm−3. The derived PPF exceeded 1.1 × 106, which is more than 40 × 103 times the respirator assigned protection factor. We were unable to measure clear differences in the PPF of respirators with old and new filters, among two male and one female user, or assess most penetrating particle size. This study shows that the loose-fitting powered air purifying respirator provides very efficient protection against nanoparticle inhalation exposure if used properly.
KeywordsAir purifying respirator Protection factor Respirator performance Occupational safety Filtration Aerosol
This work was made in close collaboration with Ms. Elina Miettinen and Mr. Janne Haapanen at Aerosol Physics Laboratory, and Mr. Tomi Kanerva at Department of Material Sciences, Tampere University of Technology.
The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme [FP7/2007-2013] under EC-GA No. 604305 ‘SUN’.
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