With such a diverse range of products on the market, and respiratory protection technology continuing to develop and grow, we’re seeing respirators advance far beyond the capabilities of the original negative pressure respirator. This has been driven by a greater understanding of what hazards are present in our environments and both the short and long term health effects of exposure to these hazards. We now understand what levels we can be safely exposed to and ways to effectively mitigate the health risks. As a result of this industry growth, supplied air respirators (SAR), and more recently powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs), have been created, completely changing the way people are able to work in otherwise potentially incredibly dangerous environments.
Getting to know loose-fitting respirators
Both supplied and powered air methods can pair with loose-fitting respirator headtops. A loose-fitting headtop can provide all-encompassing protection, covering hearing, face, head and respiratory in the one system. The air supply type creates positive pressure within the headtop, meaning the air entering the respirator’s headtop prevents ambient air in the user’s environment from entering. This allows the seal of the respirator headtop, whether it’s a neck seal, chin seal, or face seal, to be loose, while still preventing unfiltered contaminants from entering the user’s breathing area.
Supplied air respirators work by an air compressor drawing in ambient air from outside the user’s immediate environment. Air is then passed through pre-filters, regulators and airline filters. Here contaminants are removed from the air supply, passing clean filtered air down the breathing airline, through the breathing tube and into the user’s headtop allowing them to operate safely in their work environment.
PAPRs on the other hand get their air source from their immediate environment. This works by a battery-powered impeller drawing air into the unit. As the air is pulled in, it passes through a spark arrestor (if required), a pre-filter and a filter that’s appropriate for the hazards in the environment, which removes particulates and contaminants down to the specified micron capability of the filter media. This air is then passed through a breathing tube and to the user’s headtop allowing them to breathe safely while having the freedom of movement with no attached airlines.