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The Optrel US Blog

The Benefits of Powered Air Purifying Respirators

It’s time to get serious about welding fumes

By now, it should come to no surprise that welding fumes are harmful to the human body. Welding fumes comprise a complex mixture of tiny particulates consisting of metallic oxides, silicates and fluorides. In 2018, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) verified that “welding fumes are carcinogenic to humans” which was researched and classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) In 2017.

In short, it is vital to limit the risk of exposure substantially. A PAPR (powered air-purifying respirator) system can protect your lungs, allowing you to extend your career while protecting your future retirement years.

What is a PAPR?

PAPR stands for “Powered Air Purifying Respirator.” Looking at the above photos, you might think they look similar to the equipment medical professionals wear while treating outbreaks, and you would be correct. These are indeed what doctors and nurses wear to treat infectious disease situations. A PAPR pulls the highly contaminated surrounding air into an intake valve, which a blower then forces air through filter cartridges, cleansing the air, and back into the designated breathing zone of the individual wearing it.

PAPR systems are evaluated and rated for varying levels of protection, which indicates the conditions in which the rating is most suitable. You can review the details of the “Assigned Protection Factors for the Revised Respiratory Protection Standard” published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Whether working in a closed or open space with ventilation, looking into a PAPR is a step into taking your health seriously.

Comparing PAPRs to disposable masks and reusable facepieces

CDC handout on the different types of air-purifying respirators.

According to a recent article written by the CDC, Considerations for Optimizing the Supply of Powered Air-Purifying Respirators (PAPRs), “PAPRs reduce the aerosol concentration inhaled by the wearer to at least 1/25th of that in the air, compared to a 1/10th reduction for FFRs and elastomeric half facepiece air-purifying respirators.” This means that PAPRs are much more effective than FFRs. If you’re wondering what an FFR is, it stands for Filtering Facepiece Respirator. These respirators are disposable masks that cover your nose and mouth and filter out particles such as dust and fumes, though they do not protect you from gases and vapors. Commonly bought for jobs such as painting at big box stores.

Reusable masks with replaceable cartridges tell a similar story to FFRs when compared to PAPRs, except they can protect against vapors and gases if equipped properly. The largest drawback for welders regarding elastic respirators is that they require a fit test. Another challenge can be finding a respirator that fits under your helmet comfortably. Many welders find elastic reusable masks uncomfortable, which causes them to adjust the fit throughout the day, thus slowing down production and opening the welder up to risks such as being “flashed.”

One of the best things about a PAPR respirator, aside from the health benefits of course, is the ability to stay protected even if you have a beard or facial hair. With an enclosed PAPR, you can keep your beard and avoid the need for a fit test. Now that your skin feels more comfortable, you can enjoy the added benefit of cooling. The blower in a PAPR system not only cleans the surrounding air but also provides airflow into the hood, keeping the welder cool.

Features of optrel PAPR

The optrel x3000x has all the features you need in a PAPR to x-tend your possibilities:

  • Highest safety class (TH3) respiratory protection
  • Protects reliably from smoke, aerosols, and dust
  • Ready for A1B1E1 gas filter
  • Integrated, automatic air flow control and calibration
  • Expandable with mountain breeze odor filter

The optrel e3000X PAPR system protects you reliably from particles like smoke, aerosols or dust. Furthermore, the mountain breeze odor filter keeps you free from awkward smells and insanitary ozone. In environments with hazardous or toxic gases the new A1B1E1 gas filter saves you from organic, inorganic and acid gases. The e3000X adapts to your requirements.

As soon as the filter in the respective air flow level is saturated, you receive an audible and visual alarm, and the e3000X‘s intelligent alarm function switches fully automatically to the next lowest air flow stag – without you having to interrupt the work process.

We have managed to double the efficiency of the e3000X by combining a performance-optimized design with the latest battery cell technology. With up to 18 hours of battery life and 240 litres of air per minute available at the touch of a button, the e3000X is the perfect choice for the most powerful ventilated breathing protection system available on the market.

The e3000X shows you the battery charge level at the touch of a button and calibrates the air flow automatically. So you can get through the day safely.

Where to buy

If you find yourself wanting to put our technology to the test, you can find an optrel dealer or visit our product pages for the e3000X PAPR and Swiss Air PAPR. You can also use our Product Customizer to build your PAPR system, by choosing an air filter, compatible helmet, and accessories.

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