The importance of low breathing resistance in respirator design
23 January 2013
In working environments where Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is required, the 'comfort factor' can often be overlooked. However, it can play an important role in employee compliance and overall productivity. If PPE
If PPE causes discomfort, the wearer may be tempted to move an item to an incorrect position, which can severely affect the level of protection offered, or even remove it altogether, negating the protection completely. The selection and provision of comfortable PPE should be a priority, to ensure that workers are not only adequately protected from hazards, but are also able to work continuously in comfort and with minimal disruptions.
This is especially true of Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE), as airborne particulate hazards can be difficult to detect, meaning it is crucial that safety equipment is worn at all times. However, RPE can be uncomfortable if worn for long periods of time, as hot air can build up within the mask.
Recognising this, diversified technology company 3M has designed an advanced series of disposable respirators that are more comfortable, and therefore more wearable.
The Aura 9300+ Series from 3M is the latest addition to the company's extensive range of respirators and is ideal for most industries where workers require protection against particulate hazards. The new range is an evolution of the hugely popular 9300 Series and features pioneering designs and materials.
The design incorporates a new, technically-advanced filter material that combines effective performance with low breathing resistance to allow the wearer to breathe more easily through the course of their working day.
Another key feature is the Cool Flow Valve by 3M - an integral valve which seals during inhalation and opens to allow exhaled air to escape. It has been designed to prevent the build up of heat inside the mask; one of the most significant causes of discomfort to respirator wearers. The addition of the Cool Flow Valve means 9300+ respirators are 4Â° C cooler than an equivalent product without a valve, making them ideal for long periods of wear, especially where conditions are hot, humid or physically demanding.* The embossing on the top panel of the Aura 9300+ Series and inclusion of the Cool Flow Valve also helps reduce misting of eyewear that can be caused by hot air escaping through the top of the facepiece.
Testing of the 9300+ Series respirators has shown that the new design is up to 75 per cent more breathable compared with the maximum limit for a EN 149 FFP1 respirator.** The new design has already found favour with customers in a range of industries where disposable respirators are essential items, including Pendennis Shipyard's Finishing Supervisor, Leading Hand and Finishers, who comment: "Each of the changes has made the masks more durable and easier to use in a variety of ways. The masks are better fitting, easier to breathe through and more comfortable around the nose and mouth." 3M, Cool Flow and Aura are trademarks of 3M Company. *Valve efficiency testing conducted in a 3M laboratory. Testing protocol, data generation and conclusions were reviewed and approved by an expert from The University of Minnesota. This testing performed by 3M is not part of the testing and certification conducted upon these products.
**Independently tested to EN 149:2001+A1:2009, clause 7.16 - inhalation breathing resistance at a flow rate of 95 litres per minute. The 9300+ Series (valved) mean breathing resistances were 75 percent lower than the maximum limit for a FFP1 respirator, 65 percent lower for a FFP2 respirator and 60 percent lower for a FFP3 respirator.