Respiratory Protective Equipment - Civilian

 RPE is divided into two main types:

  • Respirator (filtering device) – uses filters to remove contaminants in the workplace air , there are two main types:
    • Non-powered respirators – rely on the wearer’s breathing to draw air through the filter
    • Powered respirators – use a motor to pass air through the filter to give a supply of clean air to the wearer
  • Breathing apparatus (BA) – needs a supply of breathing-quality air from an independent source (e.g. air cylinder or air compressor)

Both respirators and BA are available in a range of different styles, which can be put into two main groups:

  • Tight-fitting facepieces (often referred to as masks) - rely on having a good seal with the wearer’s face. These are available as both non-powered and powered respirators and BA. Examples are filtering facepieces, half and full-face masks.
  • Loose-fitting facepieces – rely on enough clean air being provided to the wearer to prevent contaminant leaking in (only available as powered respirators or BA). Examples are hoods helmets, visors, blouses and suits.

WARNING: Only BA is suitable for use in oxygen deficient atmospheres.

Respirator TypeComments
Half mask negative-pressure air-purifying respirator

Air-purifying respirator (APR)1
  • Disposable
  • Half mask
  • Negative-pressure
  • Assigned Protection Factor (APF): 10
  • Fit Testing Required? Yes
Air-purifying respirator (APR), disposable

Key Features
  • Usually half mask, negative-pressure particulate respirator
  • Inspiratory effort of wearer draws air through filter
  • Filter comprises all or a significant portion of the facepiece
  • Airborne particles removed as inspired air passes through filter
  • NIOSH-certified CBRN air-purifying respirators with HEPA or P-100 filters provide the minimum acceptable level of protection against inhalation of particles for personnel working in environments likely to be contaminated with radioactive materials
Advantages
  • Light weight
  • Does not restrict mobility
  • Low cost (compared to other respirators)
Disadvantages
  • Does not supply oxygen (cannot be used in low oxygen environments)
  • May only be used when air contaminant level is below the concentration limits of the filter
  • Fit testing required
  • Some contaminated air will leak into facepiece
  • Half mask models do not provide adequate eye protection
  • Full facepiece models may fog up during use
  • Communication can be difficult
Elastomeric  half mask negative-pressure air-purifying respirator

Air-purifying respirator (APR)1
  • Reusable
  • Elastomeric
  • Half mask
  • Negative-pressure
  • Assigned Protection Factor (APF): 10
  • Fit Testing Required? Yes
Air-purifying respirator (APR), reusable

Key Features
  • Elastic facepiece worn over mouth and nose
  • Inspiratory effort of wearer draws ambient air through filter(s) before air is inhaled
  • Provides increased protection when used with filters, cartridges, or canisters that remove specific contaminants
Advantages
  • Comparatively light weight
  • Does not restrict mobility
  • Relatively low cost (compared to other respirators)
Disadvantages
  • Does not supply oxygen (cannot be used in low oxygen environments)
  • May only be used when air contaminant level is below the concentration limits of the filter(s)
  • Fit testing required
  • Some contaminated air can leak into facepiece
  • Half mask models do not provide adequate eye protection
  • Communication can be difficult
Elastomeric  full facepiece negative-pressure air-purifying respirator

Air-purifying respirator (APR)1
  • Reusable
  • Elastomeric
  • Full facepiece
  • Negative-pressure
  • Assigned Protection Factor (APF): 50
  • Fit Testing Required? Yes
Air-purifying respirator (APR), reusable

Key Features
  • Elastic facepiece covers entire face
  • Inspiratory effort of wearer draws ambient air through filter(s) before air is inhaled
  • Provides increased protection when used with filters, cartridges, or canisters that remove specific contaminants
Advantages
  • Comparatively light weight
  • Does not restrict mobility
  • Provides both respiratory and eye protection
Disadvantages
  • Does not supply oxygen (cannot be used in low oxygen environments)
  • May only be used when air contaminant level is below the concentration limits of the filter(s)
  • Fit testing required
  • Some contaminated air can leak into facepiece
  • Communication can be difficult
Loose-Fitting Powered Air-purifying Respirator (PAPR)

Powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR)1
  • Loose-fitting
  • Assigned Protection Factor (APF): 25
  • Fit Testing Required? No
Powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR)

Key Features
  • Battery powered blower forces contaminated ambient air through air-purifying filters
  • Purified air delivered under positive-pressure to facepiece mask, helmet, or hood
  • Worn when disposable and reusable half mask negative-pressure air-purifying respirators do not provide adequate protection
Advantages
  • Provides greater protection than non-powered negative-pressure air-purifying respirators
  • More comfortable to wear and to breathe compared to non-powered negative-pressure air-purifying respirators
  • Air delivery to facepiece mask, helmet, or hood ensures that leakage of contaminated air is usually outward
  • Fit testing not required
  • Various chemical cartridges or canisters available to eliminate chemicals including organic vapors and acid gases
  • Provides both respiratory and eye protection
Disadvantages
  • Bulky and noisy
  • Battery dependent
  • Is not a true positive-pressure device (i.e., some leakage of contaminated air into facepiece mask, helmet, or hood can occur)
  • Communication can be difficult
Hooded, Powered Air-purifying Respirator (PAPR)

Powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR)1
  • Hooded
  • Assigned Protection Factor (APF): 25
  • Fit Testing Required? No
Powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR)

Key Features
  • Battery powered blower forces contaminated ambient air through air-purifying filters
  • Purified air delivered under positive-pressure to facepiece mask, helmet, or hood
  • Worn when disposable and reusable half mask negative-pressure air-purifying respirators do not provide adequate protection
Advantages
  • Provides greater protection than non-powered negative-pressure air-purifying respirators
  • More comfortable to wear and to breathe compared to non-powered negative-pressure air-purifying respirators
  • Air delivery to facepiece mask, helmet, or hood ensures that leakage of contaminated air is usually outward
  • Fit testing not required
  • Various chemical cartridges or canisters available to eliminate chemicals including organic vapors and acid gases
  • Provides both respiratory and eye protection
Disadvantages
  • Bulky and noisy
  • Battery dependent
  • Is not a true positive-pressure device (i.e., some leakage of contaminated air into facepiece mask, helmet, or hood can occur)
  • Communication can be difficult
Full facepiece Supplied-Air Respirator (SAR) with an auxiliary Escape Bottle

Supplied-air respirator (SAR)1
  • Full facepiece
  • Assigned Protection Factor (APF): 1,000
  • Fit Testing Required? Yes

















Full facepiece Supplied-Air Respirator (SAR) with an auxiliary Escape Bottle

Auxiliary escape respirator1
  • Assigned Protection Factor (APF): 10,000 (when used in "escape" mode)
  • Fit Testing Required? Yes
Supplied-air respirator (SAR)

Key Features
  • Compressed air delivered from a stationary source (located away from contaminated area) to a half or full facepiece mask via a hose
  • Worn when negative-pressure and powered air-purifying respirators do not provide adequate protection
Advantages
  • Provides high level respiratory protection
  • Provides positive pressure to mask so almost all leakage is outward
  • Less bulky and can be used for longer periods than self-contained breathing apparatus
  • May be easier for hospital personnel to use
  • Provides both respiratory and eye protection
Disadvantages
  • Length of air hose may limit mobility
  • Air hose may be a trip hazard
  • Clean source of breathing air required
  • Fit testing required
  • Immediately operable emergency escape respirator, escape hood, or escape mask is required
  • Communication can be difficult


Auxiliary escape respirator, escape hood, or escape mask

Key Features
  • Carried or worn in case of SAR failure
  • Protects wearer from breathing harmful gases, vapors, fumes, and dusts for a limited amount of time in emergency situations
  • Can be designed as an air-purifying escape respirator (APER) or a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) type respirator
  • APERs have a filter canister mounted on a hood to filter contaminants before air is inhaled
  • SCBA type escape respirators have an attached source of breathing air and a hood that provides a barrier against contaminated outside air
Full facepiece Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA)

Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA)1
  • Full facepiece
  • Assigned Protection Factor (APF): 10,000
    (in pressure demand mode)
  • Fit Testing Required? Yes
Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA)

Key Features
  • Provides very pure, dry compressed air to full facepiece mask via a hose
  • Air is exhaled to environment
  • By law, must be worn whenever entering environments immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH) or when information is inadequate to rule out IDLH atmosphere
Advantages
  • Provides highest level of respiratory protection
  • Several different types available depending on need
  • Improved mobility over Supplied-Air Respirators
  • Provides both respiratory and eye protection
Disadvantages
  • Heavy to wear
  • Limited oxygen supply limits duration of use
  • Fit testing required
  • Communication can be difficult

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