Power dressing

21 September 2022

Respiratory protective equipment keeps workers safe from toxic substances. Here, Ian Gil-Rodriguez introduces the Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR)

IN MANY industrial facilities, employees must work in areas where hazardous substances are present, or where the level of oxygen and amount of toxic substances may change at any time. These health hazards can affect the lungs or cause disease – and in extreme cases, can even lead to death. Where toxic substances can’t be completely controlled, respiratory protective equipment must be used. 

The choice of suitable equipment depends on the type of hazardous substances involved, their concentration, the environment and the duration of use. Also important are the assigned protection factors for choosing respiratory protection equipment. The assigned protection factor refers to the level of protection that the respiratory protection equipment provides. The higher the protection factor, the lower the amount of hazardous substances that permeate the respiratory protection equipment and enter the wearer's respiratory organs.

So when is a filtering or purifying respirator sufficient for respiratory protection? 

The basic preconditions for purifying respirator that must be met:

  • oxygen level in the ambient air is at least 17 vol. % (for CO filters: at least 19 vol. %),

  • the type of hazardous substances is known and there is a suitable filtering material available

  • the concentration level of the hazardous substance is not immediately life-threatening or hazardous to health

  • the concentration lies within the accepted limits for using filtering devices

There is a wide range of respiratory protection equipment available today. The range includes single use half-face FFP masks which are reliable and comfortable. Dust masks protect against harmful particles and are designed for one-time use. Also available are half-face masks which are reliable, comfortable and reusable and work in combination with different filters, making them highly versatile. They protect against dust, gases and/or vapours. Full face masks offer reliable respiratory and eye protection and can be used with various filters. They protect the respiratory tract as well as the eyes from dust, gases and/or vapours. Finally there is the Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR). These devices are battery-operated drawing in the ambient air and passing it through a filter into the headpiece - leading to virtually no breathing resistance. These PAPR devices can be worn for long periods of time and enable the user to breathe freely during physically demanding tasks. There are various filters and headpieces to choose from to protect against dust, gases and/or vapours, without any breathing resistance.

Why choose a PAPR?

Robust design for daily use in tough environments - even in explosive atmospheres. PAPRs feature heavy-duty design and high ingress protection (IP65) against dust and water jets. Most models incorporate the latest Li-ion battery technology providing power for upto 8 hours. Often air inlets are protected from frontal moving debris, ensuring that sparks or water do not come into direct contact with the filter. In work areas requiring explosion protection, ex-approved models are available and can be used in ex-zones 1, 2, 21 and 22.

Comfortable, let the User focus on the task - PAPRs let your employees do their job and forget about the PAPR they need for respiratory protection. Many have advanced carrying system ensuring optimal distribution of the weight and provide a tight and stable connection between the belt and the unit. Often there is a range of headpieces designed for optimal airflow and maximum comfort to avoid eye irritation.

Safe – Many units recognise connected headgear and automatically select the correct minimum flow rate, avoiding leakages caused by insufficient flow rates. Some units even have optical sensors to prevent use without a filter and can alert when filters need changing. Many have vibration alarms for noisy environments. Some units can perform entire system a self-calibration and diagnostic test on each start up ensuring the User is fully protected without the need for flow measuring devices or external measurements.

Long wearing durations – Due to the design of many PAPRs the user can comfortably wear this equipment for the duration of shift even involving strenuous exercise. Furthermore, if the User is not clean shaven or has a facial beard the unit can still be used as normal and equally effectively. 

Multiple applications The PAPR unit really is a versatile product within any respiratory protection range. Due to the multiple components and various accessories and filters. The PAPR has multi-application scenarios ranging from construction, pharmaceutical, paint spraying, woodworking, and oil/ gas through to heavy industry.

Modular range of components for every application - Many models offer a number of user-friendly standard and specialised carrying systems for use in industrial and decontamination applications. A wide range of tight and loose fitting headgear such as half and full-face masks, short and long hoods and robust protective helmets with visors are often available to complement the unit. 

An important additional feature is the User does not require a face fit test when utilising any of the hood or headtop ranges of headpieces. This allows people with facial hair (beards) to use this product when an FFP or half mask would not be possible.

The Dräger X-plore 8000 PAPR 

Challenging workplace conditions demand reliable solutions. The Dräger X-plore 8000 powered air purifying respirator (PAPR) offers intuitive handling combined with intelligent electronics that provide the high degree of safety and a host of features designed to keep you safe in a multitude of applications and combines all the features described above. 

Ian Gil-Rodriguez is a marketing manager responsible for the Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) portfolio at Dräger Safety UK. For more information, visit