Use of powered respirators in the Arctic cold environment

Theme 5. Other
Session Name 5.9 Work in the Arctic
Datetime Sep 06, 2018 02:05 PM - 02:20 PM (UTC +3)
Location IT106
Presentation Type Oral
Presenter Sirkka Rissanen
Author(s) Sirkka Rissanen (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Finland), Kirsi Jussila (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Finland)
Abstract text

Mining and other industrial activities have recently increased in the Arctic region. Therefore, need of personal protective equipment such as respiratory protective equipment (RPE), is more widely used in the cold environment. The use of RPE is known to increase psychophysiological strain at work, among others, by increasing breathing resistance. Powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs) aim to solve this problem. Experiences from the outdoor workers, however, indicate that PAPR causes excessive cooling of faces. The aim of this study was to quantify the facial cooling problem. Eight subjects volunteered in the study. Facial cooling experiments were performed at -20°C lasting for 40 min. Experimental protocol included standing, stepping and lifting a dumbbell. Nine different respirators (2 non-powered RPE and 7 PAPR) were used. Two of the studied PAPR adjust the air flow in response to wearer’s breathing while the others provide continuous air flow. Face skin temperatures (Tfs) and air temperature (Tair) inside the facemask were measured. Tfs were between 5 and 17°C and Tair inside the mask between 5 and -12°C while PAPR was used. Use of non-powered RPE resulted in Tfs between 13 and 25 °C and the Tair of 8 to 23°C. PAPR with breathing adjusted air flow diminished facial cooling rates compared to continuously blowing ones. Industrial workers need guidelines for safer use of PAPR in different ambient conditions. Moreover, design of more advanced PAPR for Arctic work is needed to attenuate facial cooling.

 Download to your calendar