Masks and respirators are not only a necessity to frontline healthcare workers, but for all employers across all industries. Because of our unique situation and extremely high demand for PPE all over the world, it’s important to discuss topics surrounding masks and respirators, including respirator selection, Assigned Protection Factor, and the major types of respirators and respirator families that companies can deploy to their employees.
According to the OSHA standard, there are five major types of respirators utilized across industries. We will talk more about these respirators in this blog or you can watch our live discussion in this recent webinar, but for general organization, they are characterized by an increasing amount of Assigned Protection Factor values. For more information about respirator selection and developing a respiratory protection program, reference OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard 29 CFR 1910.134.
What is Assigned Protection Factor (APF)?
The general definition of Assigned Protection Factor is the wearer can use each one of these respirators in an atmosphere that has 10X, 25X, 50X, or even 1000X the permissible exposure level of a known contaminant. So, the higher the protection factor, the nastier the environment a wearer can safely work in. Now, let’s take a look at the five major types of respirators on the market today.
Major Types of Respirators
Half mask/dust masks and half masks (elastomeric) are both quite common PPE that can be found just about anywhere, but they are only a basic defense to otherwise some very hazardous environments. They carry a low APF of 10 from NIOSH and OSHA, and they also need to be fit tested annually and fit checked with each use. These types of masks are negative pressure respirators, thus relying on the wearer’s inhalation to deliver air. They rely on a seal to the wearer’s face for protection and cannot be worn with most facial hair. There’s also a chance these masks will not interface well with some glasses or goggles. As a minor benefit, these masks do have an inexpensive up-front cost.
Full face-piece elastomeric type respirators are another common PPE that can be found just about anywhere, but they are somewhat of an upgrade from the previous masks. They carry a moderate APF of 50 from NIOSH and OSHA, but also need to be fit tested annually and fit checked with each use. These respirators are another negative pressure model, thus relying on the wearer’s inhalation to deliver air. They rely on a seal to the wearer’s face for protection and cannot be worn with most facial hair. There’s also a chance these masks will not interface well with some glasses or goggles. They have a moderate up-front cost and use cartridges or filters that need to be replaced often.
Loose-Fitting Powered Air-Purifying Respirators (PAPR) are the next type of respirator and are less common in some industries but have an overall better protection value than masks and even full face-pieces. This is mainly because loose-fitting PAPRs, even though they have a lower APF of 25, they are a positive pressure hood and the wearer does not need to constantly breathe for the respirator to operate. These respirators have a battery-powered blower that delivers a positive pressure of at least 6 cfm of air. They rely on a loose seal to the wearer’s face for protection, and do not require annual fit testing. These types of respirators can be worn with most facial hair as well. They do have a higher up-front cost and require cartridges or filters that need replaced in order to operate.
The final type of respirator that also provides the most protection is the Hood Powered Air-Purifying Respirator. These hood-style PAPRs are positive pressure respirators that come with a battery-powered blower that delivers 6 cfm (or greater) of air to the wearer. They mainly rely on a bib, shroud or neck cuff for protection, and do not require annual fit testing. They can be worn with most facial hair and also have the best field of view for the wearer. They have a higher up-front cost and use cartridges and filters that need replacement. These PAPRs initially carry an APF of 25 from NIOSH and OSHA but can go up to 1,000 with the proper testing and validation.
Much of this content is also available from the following article authored by Doug Durney, ILC Dover’s Product Line Director for PPE.
Sentinel XT™ PAPR
The Sentinel XT™ PAPR system from ILC Dover, which includes a unique clear hood, Quick-Loc™ waist belt or back harness, robust blower, filters and breathing tube, offers multiple advantages over hooded PAPRs from other manufacturers. The Sentinel XT™ PAPR provides greater safety and higher productivity with the following features:
- Positive pressure respirator
- Delivers 8 cfm of air to wearer
- 320-degree field of view
- Validated for 1,000 APF with inner bib
- 12-hour rechargeable LiPo battery standard
- 2 pound system weight is lightest in its class
- Wide range of filter/cartridge combinations available
Advantages with ILC Dover PAPRs
All of ILC Dover’s products incorporate leading-edge flexible materials and advanced film technologies, embodying the core principles that made the original NASA spacesuits so successful. The unique barrier film construction makes for easier cleaning than traditional head covers and offer the ability to use stethoscopes. These PAPRs provide comfortable support throughout the day, with an internal headband for stability and a loose-fitting neck cuff. The most amazing feature is the wide range of view from the wraparound clear visor for superior visibility. ILC Dover PAPRs are the superior PPE to have during COVID-19 and beyond.
To learn more about ILC Dover’s Sentinel XT PAPR, and if hooded PAPRs are right for your organization, please view our newest webinar.