Respiratory System Protection
People who constantly work in dusty locations can develop chronic respiratory diseases and other health problems. Thus, starting from the early times of the human history, namely the first century, people started to create simple protection means from the harmful particles in the air. With the course of time, this technology developed, and now people have a reliable, effective and convenient tool for the respiratory system protection. The device is called a respirator and is a tool of personal respiratory protection designed to ensure safety operation in dusty conditions or in the presence of any harmful aerosols and gases. In fact, there are several types of respiratory protection equipment, which have some similarities and differences due to the form of their application. Besides, there are general rules for the use and storage of respirators, and employees must strictly follow them.
As was previously mentioned, a respirator is a device for the reliable respiratory system protection. Moreover, it is a lightweight tool against hazardous gases, vapors, aerosols and dust. The main purpose of a respirator is supplying of purified air that is suitable for humans. In fact, this device has proved itself effective in various areas of operation, and it is difficult to imagine the work in the conditions that pose a risk to human health without the use of this personal protective equipment. Besides, the scope of the respirators is extensive as the situations in which people may need this filtering device are numerous (Fell-Carlson 52-64). Firstly, people use respiratory protection tools in the industrial areas of different production. For example, respirators are common in industrial laboratories, workshops, and in all places where workers need to protect their health from the harmful effects of production residues. Secondly, it is widely applied in the medical field where the device is relevant in terms of protection against allergens and infectious agents. The military area is another field of frequent respirator application. Moreover, due to their use in extreme conditions, the devices are especially durable and ergonomic. It should be also noted that people use respirators in construction to get protected from dust inhaling. What is more, respirators are effective in repair, paintwork, and pesticides and fertilizers manipulations (Gupta 34-58).
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In fact, respirators are classified based on the intended use, device lifetime, and the type of mechanism of protection against contaminants. All respirators are divided into two basic types. There are respirators with built-in (non-removable) filter and breathing valves and replaceable filter elements. A respirator with fixed filters is a simple device with low cost but with a limited service life because usually it is disposable. The second type of respirators is more sophisticated and has a high cost but offers versatility and durability. The users can replace the filter elements if necessary. Besides, different filters for the protection against various aerosols, gases, fumes and other air pollution agents are available. Furthermore, respirators have several design features. The first type is the quarter-face mask respirator that covers only nose, mouth, and leaves the chin open (Gantt 67-82). Today, this respirator is not commonly used because it provides a low degree of protection and has an uncomfortable design. The next type is a half-face mask, which is the most widespread model that covers half of the face (from nose to chin) and provides a high-degree protection and convenient use. Traditional half-face mask is divided into two subtypes. The first one to be mentioned is a molded respirator, which often has a foldable design. In fact, such device retains the shape and does not require straightening when a person equipped. The second type is the unshaped half-mask respirators. Usually, they have a circular shape and require straightening when a person equipped. Besides, a molded respirator is more comfortable to fit the face. On the other hand, unshaped half-mask respirator has a simple design, and it is easier to adjust its shape to facial features. The last type is the full-face mask that completely covers the face and provides reliable protection. These respirators are quite expensive, but they ensure the highest level of protection from harmful substances. There are also respirators of other design types such as hoods, helmets and even costumes. These devices provide maximum protection, but they are used only in very particular cases such as rescue operations in the areas of radioactive, chemical or bacteriological contamination military zones, or in special industrial areas (Tweedy 67-78).
According to the method of protection, respirators are divided into air-purifying respirators and the supplied-air respirators. The first type operates by filtering the air through a special layer thus purifying it from contaminants. The filters for this device are different and vary in their ability to block a certain amount of pollutant particles. In fact, the instructions to the respirator must indicate the minimum size of particles captured by this device, as well as the work conditions suitable for this particular respirator. For example, the interaction with paints, lacquers and enamels requires the use of filters designed to protect from the paint fumes. On the other hand, other filters should be used for the protection of the respiratory system against dust. As a rule, the air-purifying respirators are the most commonly used in everyday life and construction industry (Board on Health Sciences Policy 42).
The second type of respirators uses a forced flow of clean air from a cylinder or air producing cartridge. However, the air, in this case, can also pass through a filter with a fan. Due to the high cost, reliability and durability, the supplied-air respirators are mostly used by physicians, rescuers, scientists, and in the military field. Regardless of the type of device, all respirators are divided into the three major classes depending on purposes. Thus, the first type is represented by the respirators aimed at protecting against dust and aerosols (dust masks). Second, there are devices for the defense against gases (gas masks). The third type is the respirators that have the ability to protect people against all types of air pollution (combined masks). In fact, the dust masks provide protection from dust, aerosols and the smoke, but they cannot protect against gases, vapors, and odors. However, such respirators can save from aerosols in the area of radioactive, chemical, and biological contamination. The gas masks protect against organic and inorganic gases and vapors, including vapors of gasoline, acetone, mercury chloride, hydrogen sulfide, and other highly odorous substances (Tweedy 67-79). Finally, the combined respirators protect against dust, aerosols, and gases. Furthermore, they provide better protection and are more versatile. Consequently, the general protective respirators characteristics and capabilities of their design features are related to their filters specifics. Depending on the lifetime features, respirators are divided into disposable and reusable kinds. Disposable devices are unsuitable for further use after the first time of their application. In fact, people use such respirators against dust and traffic fumes. The reusable respirators allow for the filters’ replacement, which considerably extends the period of their use (Gupta 86-92).
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However, an important aspect is the knowledge of the respiratory programs. In fact, employees have to understand all the nuances related to the application and use of these devices and should have a proper training. Firstly, all the workers must participate in a medical evaluation. The reason for the medical evaluation is to guarantee that they are physically and mentally ready to perform the work while wearing respiratory defensive gear. Secondly, the employees must learn the basic rules of work with respirators in a contaminated area. For example, people must understand the possible malfunctions and forbidden manipulations of these devices. Moreover, an important fact is that workers cannot use the damaged respirators, such as those with the through holes or broken valves. Finally, the employees must learn the general rules of the respirators use. To perform a task using the respiratory system protection equipment, people must pass training and complete a testing program to prevent the possible problems during the working process. Besides, the employees must learn the basic elements of cleaning and storage of these devices (Kalsbeek 50). After each use of a respirator, a worker must clean it inside and outside with a wet cloth. Then, the device should be dried and put into a special storage bag. Consequently, if all the rules of their application and storage are followed, the respirators will effectively perform their functions for a long time.
Therefore, a respirator refers to the means of respiratory protection. The principle of this device is based on the supply of the air that is purified from the harmful gases, dust and vapors. In fact, the respirators are common in industrial factories, medical institutions, and daily life when people need to protect their health from the harmful substances. Besides, the rescuers and military representatives often use these devices in the areas of radioactive, chemical or bacteriological contamination. In fact, there are different types of respirators with specific features. These devices have distinct methods of protection and construction type. Due to the importance of respirators for a working process, employees must learn the general rules of the respiratory program. Thus, the workers must know all the peculiarities and features of the respirator use and storage. Besides, employees must comply with safety rules and responsibly treat these devices.