Archive for Respirators

Introduction to Respiratory Protection

We don’t often give much thought to the air we breathe. Air quality is usually out of our control so worrying about it would cause unnecessary stress. For the most part, that isn’t a big deal, but if you’re on the job and the processes involved are kicking material into the air, it’s worth the effort to protect your respiratory system. Here at Enviro we have a range of respiratory protection products from one-use face masks to full-service airtight respiration suits. What kind of job you’re doing will determine what kind of protection you need. Let’s dive in.

 

The most basic type of respirator is the familiar dust mask. Everyone’s seen them before, those white paper domes strapped to the faces of construction workers like cardboard Darth Vader masks. Without them, your lungs could incur irreparable damage from the particulate in the air. It’s not quite the equivalent of a lava bath on Mustafar, but lung damage severely affects quality of life and even lead to death. A particularly nasty substance, crystalline silica, is a byproduct of many crushing and grinding processes. It sprays into the air as a cloud of microscopic needles that, when inhaled, will settle in your lungs and create a horrifying infection. It can take up to a decade for symptoms to show, but when they do it usually means the end of a career and a grim prognosis of a drastically shortened life. You don’t want that to happen, and a proper respirator can prevent it.

 

Dust masks have letter and number ratings: N, R, P, 95, 99, and 100. N means that the respirator is not oil resistant and shouldn’t be used in oily situations. R means it is resistant to oil and suitable for light oil applications, while P indicates the mask is fully oil-proof and suitable for jobs with a heavy oil presence. The numbers reflect the percentage of particles (0.3 microns or larger) that the respirator filters. For example, a P95 mask is oil-proof and filters out 95% of particles. Simple enough. To be precise, 100-rated masks filter out 99.97% of particles, but the system rounds it up for obvious reasons. N95s tend to be the most popular because they are easier to breathe in.

 

If your environment has more airborne dangers than a disposable filter can handle, we have you covered. Our half- and full-face respirators may be more Vader-esque than the simple dust masks, but they are also much more effective. They typically feature a mask that covers the mouth and two filter slots on either side that accomodate disposable filters, which can come as distinctive cartridges or soft pads. You can buy composite parts as well as conveniently packaged assembly kits at a discount. There are a number of specialized models for particular jobs (for example, the 3MM7193 is designed for asbestos) but they’re mostly multi-purpose and fit for all kinds of work. Some of them cover only the mouth, while others come with a face shield that forms a seal around the whole face, providing eye protection as well.

 

Next time we’re going to look at some of the more advanced options in the respiratory department, like PAPRs and SCBAs and other great acronymically named products. Stay tuned!

After the Storm

Few things are more devastating or confusing than to be in the path of a natural disaster, and hurricanes are among the worst. Last week, the most brutal storm to hit the United States in 12 years made landfall in Texas: Hurricane Harvey. By now you’ve seen more than enough images of devastation, rescue crews driving boats through flooded neighborhoods, and overcrowded shelters. It hasn’t been as deadly so far as Katrina or Sandy, thank God, but it’s far costlier than any other disaster in American history. The jaw-dropping combination of 132 mph winds and 19 trillion gallons of water, which AccuWeather hauntingly rendered as a gargantuan cube hovering over downtown Houston like the New Jersualem in the Revelation of John (the phrase “Biblical proportions” has been invoked numerous times in the media) have clobbered the region with an estimated $190 billion recovery cost.

 

Here at Enviro we have a track record of stepping up to provide rescue supplies in times of crisis, such as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa earlier in 2014. We’re committed to contributing similarly to the Harvey relief effort. It’s the least we can do as Americans and human beings to serve the heroes on the ground with the best of our equipment.

 

In a full-scale cleanup after a disaster of this scale, contamination is the primary concern. The water has wreaked havoc on Texas’s urban infrastructure. The sewers have overflown and deadly parasites and molds are free to infest the environment, as well as toxins from industrial sites. You need protection from those hazards, and companies like DuPont have got your back with Tyvek coveralls. Their signature flashspun polyethylene fabric protects against particles as small as 1 micron, and its protective qualities are inherent to the fabric and therefore resist wear and abrasion. You’ll want serged seams on the wrists to keep water from rushing into the sleeves, but for your legs you’ll need full waders. If you’re feeling particularly cautious, you might want to get the variety that comes with a respirator-fit hood, which brings us to the next item.

 

Airborne contaminants are everywhere in a situation like this. The National Hurricane Center website has a helpful animation that shows the spectrum of damage that hurricane winds can cause to a house and to a stand of palm trees. If you adjust the wind speed approximately to where Harvey’s winds reached their zenith, half of the house is disintegrated and blowing in the wind, and the trees are stripped of their fronds. That’s a cloud of building material (possibly predating the asbestos ban) floating free in the air to be inhaled. You need a respirator that has the right balance of high-performance and portability. The N95 particulate respirators from 3M are a good family of products to explore, some of which feature a nifty exhalation valve that prevents it getting too hot in there. The punishing heat of Texas in summer combined with the oppressively wet conditions and the level of exertion involved in rescue work way well make it a necessity.

 

This won’t be the final word on Harvey in this space, since it only covers two categories of product that we carry at Enviro. There will probably be more posts about the relief effort after the weekend, so stay tuned and stay safe.

5 Surprising Scenarios That Require Respiratory Protection

Everyone knows that respiratory protection is crucial to the health and even survival of workers in many fields. Where toxic materials, such as gas or chemicals, are present, heavy-duty coverage, in the form of a respirator kit, for instance, is a legal, ethical, (and sometimes mortal) necessity. But many more situations than one might expect call for breathing protection. Here are five perhaps unpredictable examples of scenarios requiring respiratory protection, some of which anyone might encounter in the ordinary course of life.

Being Sick

Around cold and flu season, have you ever noticed people going about their day wearing healthcare masks covering their nose and mouth? You might imagine they used this respiratory protection to save themselves from breathing in airborne pathogens. On the contrary, it is more likely they were trying to protect you, and everyone else, from catching a bug they were battling themselves. Surgical masks are designed to trap respiratory secretions (including bacteria and viruses) expelled by the wearer and prevent disease or virus transmission to others. Masks prevent the spread of flu in the workplace and beyond by stopping the wearer’s cough or sneeze from spraying droplets on those around them. Wearing a mask for respiratory protection around the workplace when ill is a considerate step that may help stymy the spread of bothersome contagions.

Disaster Relief

Disasters such as hurricanes, floods and fires turn once-sturdy structures into debris, and such particulates call for significant respiratory protection in the form of dust mask respirators. In addition to wearing the proper work gloves, volunteers or employees who are cleaning out debris or recouping homes should be cautious of the inhalable airborne particles, such dust and mold spores that are stirred up when buildings are knocked down or grow when they are waterlogged. Such inhalable materials can produce coughing or breathing problems, particularly for those with allergies or asthma. Additionally, clean-up crews should protect their eyes from such harmful objects with a durable pair of safety glasses. Workers should be sure to use respiratory protection, especially around older homes, which may contain asbestos and lead-based paint that may be breathed in as dust.

Landscaping/Gardening

As healthful as a breath of fresh air might be, it can also pose hazards in the form of allergens. From pollen to ragweed to spores from various trees, grasses and molds, the natural world, while beautiful, is full of things that can make us sniffle and sneeze – or worse – without the right respiratory protection. A day of gardening or landscaping can lead to severe reactions in those who suffer from even mild seasonal allergies. Those using powerful mechanical equipment such as lawnmowers or hedge trimmers are at particular risk, as such machines stir up large clouds of inhalable allergens around their operators. A filtering mask or respirator can help ensure that a day in the garden remains pleasant or a hard day’s work outside less burdensome.

Welding

There are dozens of welding safety tips you should know before undertaking any such task and respiratory protection is certainly one of them. Welding, or the process of joining metals by causing coalescence using a source of intense heat, can be a dangerous job. However, the hazards one typically associates with the process most likely relate to the high temperatures, flammable sparks and arc flashes it can produce. One might not realize that welding creates metal fumes that pose an equally real danger when inhaled. To avoid lung damage, prudent workers wear a welding respirator for breathing protection. Disposable respirators, which are small enough to fit under protective welding helmets, are a popular choice.

Working with Animals

Those who work with animals may develop debilitating allergies to them over time. While some estimate that as many of 15 percent of the human population is allergic to some animal species, the estimate is as high as 40 percent for those who regularly work with animals as part of their occupation, such as researchers or animal care providers. Asthma sufferers in particular put themselves at health risk by working with animals they are allergic to. Experts recommend wearing some form of respiratory protection, such as a ventilated hood, when working directly with animals one is allergic to. When not wearing a hood, workers should wear an approved NIOSH certified N95 respirator when in the animal facility.

Combustible Dust Explosion Prevention

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), if your company or firm produces/manufactures any of the following products or materials in powdered form, there is a potential for a “Combustible Dust” explosion and respiratory health risks. These products or materials include:

Combustible DustAgriculture Products: egg white, powdered milk, soy flour, sugar, whey, wood flour, starch, tapioca and more.
Agricultural Dusts: cotton, malt, oat flour, peat, potato flour, gluten, rye flour, tea, wheat starch, sunflower seed dust, coffee dust, alfalfa, soybean dust, sugar, onion powder and more.
Carbonaceous Dusts: corn, cork, charcoal, lignite, peat, soot, pine, cellulose, coal, coke (petroleum), lignite and lampblack.
Chemical Dusts: sulfur, calcium acetate, dextrin, lactose, lead stearate, ascorbis acid and more.
Metal Dusts: aluminum, bronze, iron carbonyl, magnesium and zinc.
Plastic Dusts: polyethylene, emulsion, epoxy resin, melamine resin, polypropylene, phenolic resin and more.

To lessen the risk of a “Combustible Dust” explosion, explosion proof vacuums are recommended for cleanup and housekeeping. These types of vacuums do not produce sparks and help to reduce the risk of an explosion.

To ensure worker safety, make sure your employees are equipped with the appropriate respiratory protection to lower the risk of long term respiratory issues.

View the OSHA Combustible Dust Poster for a complete list of products or materials at risk, along with dust control and prevention measures.

Health Problems Associated with Wildfire Smoke Inhilation

Wildfires in Arizona and New Mexico have burned a combine 1400 square miles of land, pumping billows of smoke into the atmosphere that contains a mixture of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, water vapor, particulate matter and other organic chemicals. Inhalation of smoke is damaging to your respiratory system and millions of people are affected by it every year. People living in a 5-10 mile radius of a wildfire are at the most risk and should limit prolonged outside activity.

Common health problems associated with smoke inhalation include coughing, itchy throat, dry eyes and headaches. More serious health issues that can arise include shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pains, exacerbation of asthma and the development of bronchitis. Children, elderly and individuals with a history of asthma or respiratory diseases are the most at risk to develop health issues. Even the healthiest person can develop symptoms when exposed to high levels of wildfire smoke.

Residents living near wildfires should take precautions to ensure proper respiratory health. Hot and dry weather conditions cause smoke in the air to remain stagnate and settles at the ground level. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends staying indoors as the best way to avoid smoke inhalation. Keep windows and doors closed and remain indoors until smoke levels have decreased. If you have to drive somewhere, keep the windows rolled up the entire trip.

For those individuals looking to take more precautions, a full face respirator is recommended. The full face design seals around your forehead, cheeks and under your chin for an airtight fit. Full face respirators also come with adjustable straps so you can get a custom and secure fit. It is also recommended to use a pair of organic vapor cartridges or particulate filters for the best respiratory protection possible.

Asbestos Safety

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is the name for a group of naturally occurring minerals that resist damage from extreme heat, electricity, and chemicals. Asbestos has been used as a flame retardant in thousands of products, such as textiles, insulation, building materials, and brakes for many years. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that scientists discovered the dangers of asbestos, linking it to thousands of cases of respiratory disease. Since then, asbestos use has been restricted, and even banned completely in some countries.

Why is asbestos dangerous?

If you looked at asbestos under a microscope, you would see tiny barbs at the ends of the fibers, which serve to anchor the fibers to lung tissue. Once inhaled, asbestos particles are nearly impossible to dislodge. The more you are exposed, the higher your chances are of developing respiratory problems, even though symptoms may not be present for decades. The two illnesses most often associated with asbestos exposure are asbestosis and mesothelioma. While some treatments have been developed for these diseases, the overall survival rate remains poor.

Prevention:

Proper use of Personal Protective Equipment has been proven to greatly reduce both primary and secondary exposure levels.

  • Clothing – Disposable protective clothing which completely covers arms, legs and hair needs to be worn at all times. Work gloves suitable for chemical handling are needed as well.
  • Respirators – A respirator rated specifically for asbestos abatement by the NIOSH should be worn at all times.
  • Disposal – All contaminated garments should be removed immediately and sealed in a plastic bag to prevent cross-contamination. Dispose of bag according to local laws and regulations.

Enviro Featured in Tool Guide Magazine! – Trend Airshield

Enviro Safety Products has been featured in the 2010 Edition of Taunton’s Tool Guide Magazine! Enviro’s mention arises from the competitive prices of the Trend Airshield and Trend Airshield Pro. On top of the low prices, Enviro offers a Trend Airshield Coupon to save customers even more money! Tool Guide has Enviro listed as one of “Our Favorites” featuring the Trend Airshield products. This magazine feature shows that Enviro has the best Powered Respirators for the price. Trend Airshield and Trend Airshield Pro are both comfortable and extremely effective respirators to prevent inhalation of harmful dust.

Tool Guide keeps customers updated with the latest innovations to make sure customers get the most for their money. Tool Guide is an up-to-date, comprehensive, authoritative tool-buying guide that compiles appraisals and valuable product comparisons from 6,000 actuals users, including industry users and regular people.

Trend Airshield Price Update

Considering our bad economy, it should be no surprise most manufactures have increased their prices and TREND is no exception. Trend is now implementing M.A.P. (Minimum Advertised Price) on all their items. The popular TREND Airshield and TREND Airshield Pro now sell for $320 and $399. These are popular PAPR systems among woodworkers and others who need excellent protection from the inhalation of harmful dust. We know the last thing our customers need is to pay more for safety, that’s why we are offering a coupon on all Trend Airshield products. Make sure to request a coupon before you checkout to receive instant savings on your purchase.

Flu Mask Destroys Viruses and Bacteria

Looking for a face mask that not only protects you from viruses and bacterias, but destroys them? Look no further. MCR Safety has just launched the Safe2Breathe Pandemic Flu Mask. The Safe2Breathe kills viruses and bacteria and destroys the micro-organisms for up to 24 hours, and has been proven to block at least 99% of particulates. “Independent laboratory test results confirm that the antimicrobial properties of the Pandemic Mask are significantly effective against Influenza, Tuberculosis, MRSA, bird flu and others.” (MCR Safety) This flu mask is designed to neutralize and destroy the microbes making them harmless to the environment as well as breaking the transmission cycle.

So, how does the flu mask destroy viruses and bacterias? Safe2Breathe masks offer bi-directional protection with 7-layer construction. The construction “….disables viruses at the cellular level, repels airborne moisture and filters fine particles, blood, bacteria and viruses.” (MCR Safety)

These flu masks are superior to the N95 as they are only tested to block particles from entering the mask. The spread of the pandemic is continuous as particles continue to stay alive on the N95.

The Safe2Breathe Pandemic Flu Mask is not a reusable mask, and should be disposed of no longer than 24 hours after start of use. Shelf life for these masks is at least 3 years.

Child-Size Face Masks – Protect Your Child

Kimberly Clark Children's MaskFor parents who have been looking for a mask to fit their child and have child friendly attributes, look no further. Kimberly Clark now offers Child-Size Face Masks with Disney characters. Not only are these masks specifically designed to fit small faces and provide the comfort and protection children need, they feature Disney characters on the outer facing part of the mask providing a sense of familarity for the child as well as encourage compliance, making parents lives much easier. Most children do not like wearing hats, sunglasses, and especially masks and often throw them off. But with the newly designed Disney children’s masks, not only do the masks feature child friendly designs, they offer a comfortable fit with knitted earloops, formable nose wire, and include natural rubber latex-free.

The Kimberly Clark Child-Size Face Masks are recommended for use by children who are immuno-compromised, have flu-like symptoms, and are visiting hospital patients. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends patients with undiagnosed respiratory symptoms be asked to wear a face mask in waiting rooms, to protect themselves and those around them” (Kimberly Clark).

Parents whose children have coughs and sneezes should protect their children and others around them with child’s face masks. Kimberly Clark is the first company to have specially designed masks to fit small faces and understand that adult masks cannot provide the appropriate fit, comfort and protection children need.