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September is Disaster Preparedness Month; we are posting periodic reminders this month to encourage people to prepare for disaster's in their community.

 

September 12, 2017

In our ongoing series on Disaster Preparedness, here is something on Respirators

Primer Respiratory Protection for a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Member

By Jim Poesl

 

Note:  This is not an official government document, Jim Poesl or JCP Technical make no warranty or guarantee to its applicability to your situation.  This information is for general use, your specific situation might be significantly different and require great protection.  Avoid chemical exposure. Use this information at your own risk.  Also, the government’s official courses on Respirator usage are 3-5 days at a minimum so don’t think that you can read this Primer and be an expert.  Read all manufacturer’s instructions prior to use.

 

JCP Technical does give respirator training, please contact us.  The best training for a respirator is still hands-on.

 

Introduction

 

When disaster strikes there is a lot of debate and misinformation on respirators and respirator usage.  Untrained or desperate people will grab the first respirator available and use it.   This leads to well-intentioned people having a false sense of security and heading into a situation that is dangerous or deadly thinking that they are safe. Probably the best thing to do if you are exposed to a respiratory hazard if from a dirty bomb, chemical exposure, building debris, mold, or anything else is to evacuate or leave, rather than look for a respirator.  After reading this, you should have a better idea why.

 

Background Information on Respirators

 

Before you use a respirator you should be asking the following:

 

1.     Am I healthy enough to wear a respirator?  If you have any questions you should go for a medical evaluation, with the OSHA Respirator Questionnaire in hand. If you have a heart condition, neck issues, back issues, cancer, immunodeficiency, or any other medical condition you might not be able to wear a respirator because it might kill you or hurt you.

2.     Do I have facial hair (beard) that might interfere with a respirator?  This applies to men and women.  Respirators (other than hood type) do not work with facial hair.

3.     Do I have the correct respirator for the perceived hazard?

4.     Is this respirator in good shape?

 

If you answered NO to any of those questions do not wear a respirator. 

 

Respirators are divided into two groups, air supplied respirators (that supply air from a source) or air purifying (chemically clean or filter the air). 

 

Supplied air respirators (SAR).  These respirators get air from an outside source, they can either be supplied from a special air compressor with filters or air bottles.  Usually used when you are dealing with an unknown chemical or high concentration.

 

Air Purifying respirator (APR).  These rely on a cartridge to filter the air or chemically clean them.  Dust cartridges (are usually made out of cloth and used to be called HEPA cartridges, now they have several different types.  If they are chemically cleaning the air they may have activated charcoal (charcoal treated and ground up) that chemically cleans the air.

 

Limitations of SAR’s: They are heavy, bulky, need practice putting them on, have a high protection factor, very difficult to store, and are very expensive.  Depending on the set up, they have a very limited air supply, and the air might not be clean unless you test it.

 

Advantages of SAR’s.  These respirators protect you from 1000 to 10,000 times the exposure limit depending on the type you use. 

 

Limitations of APR’s:  APR’s are easily stored, widely available, portable and less bulky.  The major limitation is that you need to know what you are dealing with, in what concentration, for how long, and if it has a warning property (smell or taste)—if you smell it in your respirator something is wrong.  The cartridges do go bad and the cartridges are only good for what they are rated for.  Specific protection factors apply to specific respirators (see below).  THEY DO NOT SUPPLY OXYGEN AND SHOULD NOT BE USED IN LIFE THREATENING SITUATIONS.

 

Advantages of APR:  They are widely available, affordable, and easily stored.

 

The limitations of both of them are that in industry you need to have physicals because there is stress to the body when wearing a respirator.  People have been known to suffer from claustrophobia or cardiac arrest.  If you have a heart condition or other health issue you may not be able to wear a respirator at all.

 

Basic Science Behind Respirators

 

The maximum use concentration of respirators are calculated by taking the assigned protection factor (ANSI protection Factor) multiplied by an exposure limit.

 

There are several exposure limits available to use these include:

 

·      OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL)

·      American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists Threshold Limit Value (TLV)

·      National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limits (REL)

·      Plus a whole alphabet soup of acronyms and levels from various organizations.

 

These limits are almost always based on workplace exposures that are based on an 8-hour work day, and 40-hour workweek.  A free resource to get some of these exposure limits is on the NIOSH website for free (a division of the CDC) under the NIOSH Guide to Chemical Hazards.  The unofficial unscientific rule of thumb for public health officials is that in lieu of a specific health standard for the public use 10% of the lowest occupational standard. 

 

Something to remember is that there are less than 10,000 published occupational exposure limits for more than 80,000 chemicals in the workplace, this does not include the what the general public can be exposed to. Many carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals) have a zero threshold (no exposure allowable). 

 

Published exposure limits are only for those chemicals only, what happens when there is a combination of chemicals?  There is a calculation that assumes an additive effect of the chemicals and you lower the exposure limit (see whattheheckaretheydoing.com).  For example, in a situation like 9-11 in NYC the exposure limits should be near zero, meaning the air was not safe to breath in any amount.  Furthermore, biologicals like mold, bacteria and fungi have a zero threshold exposure limit (no level is safe).  The reason for this is that different people have different health situations and everyone’s immune system is different.

Assigned Protection Factor (APF) means the work- place level of respiratory protection that a respirator or class of respirators is expected to provide.

Common protection factors are as follows:

 

·      Dust mask:  0**

·      Filtering Facepiece Respirator (Dust mask with NIOSH rating, normally two headstraps): 10**

·      For a ½ facepiece APR:  10

·      For a full facepiece APR:50

·      Supplied air anywhere from 25 to 1,000

·      Self-contained breathing apparatus (aka firemen’s) anywhere from 10 to 10,000

 

Surplus “gas masks” are suspect and should not be trusted without investigation, to protect you against anything, some of them available online are decades old.

 

The protection factors multiplied by the exposure limit give you the Maximum Use concentration.  Generally speaking, you won’t be able to make these calculations in the field so the best bet is to leave.

 

**The Assigned Protection Factor for a Filtering Facepiece Respirator is 10, however I do not recommend using it for toxic or hazardous atmospheres.  A Dust mask (also called comfort mask) is not rated for anything, including dusts.  In my profession experience these give people a false sense of security and people put themselves in more hazardous situations thinking they are protected.

 

Respirator Cartridges.  Every manufacturer has slightly different colors and different uses for respirators.  For a respirator to be a “respirator” it must have a NIOSH Approval (it is on the mask) anything else is suspect and may not protect you.  READ the Label’s and Instructions.

 

Conclusion

 

One of the first rules of emergency response is “Don’t make the problem worse”.  You becoming hurt causes the problem to become worse.  The government often gets it wrong when it comes with the safety of the air at disaster sites, and often OSHA regulations are rescinded during an emergency.  So a little bit of training and looking out for yourself goes a long way.

 

Hopefully this clears up some confusion on respirators.  Before you use one, make sure you have the correct training and knowledge. If you are a CERT team member thank you for volunteering, but attend a respirator training class before you put one on, hopefully one given by JCP Technical Services. September 5, 2017

 

With hurricane Irma in the Caribbean and possibly impacting Florida later this week, let’s make sure that people in the path are prepared for impacts of the storm.  Don’t forget to assess the needs of all your family/household members.  Elderly/handicapped people may have significantly different needs from infants or children. Under the best of circumstances it may take two weeks to fully prepare for a disaster, with short notice make sure you prioritize what you need to do.

September 3, 2017

September is Disaster Preparedness Month.

The US is recovering from the current disaster of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas.  Brave volunteers, national guardsman, emergency responders, and neighbors are responding to the emergency.  dHere in the NY area there are still lingering recovery efforts to the infrastructure and some shore communities.  We really don’t need too much more persuasion in getting prepared for disasters.

The Department of Homeland Security recommends all Americans have an emergency kit with a minimum of 96 hours’ worth of supplies.

Everyone’s needs during an emergency are different.    What should you consider?  Here are a few things:

  • What are the likely emergencies/disasters you may face?
  • How many people are you responsible for?
  • Age.  Do you have young children; do you have elderly or people with health needs?
  • What do you need?  From flashlights, to diapers and first aid kits.  ATM’s will be down so you will need cash.
  • How much food, supplies, etc.?  You need 1 gallon of  drinking water for every person.  A family of four would need 28 gallons just for drinking water for a week.  This does not include sanitation.  Do you have food?  Is it food that everyone can or will eat during the disaster?  How will you prepare it? 
  • What are your storage requirements?  Are you living in a house, apartment, or condo?
  • What kind of paperwork do you need?  Insurance policies, retirement fund information, banking info, etc.?
  • Where are your evacuation locations?  Do we go to a friend or relatives house?  Is there a local community gathering area?
  • What is your budget for the situation?  How much money do you have to spend?  If you know what your budget limits are you can better prioritize what to get and when well before any emergency.  Clean water should always be a priority.

                                                                                                                  

Remember the three A’s of safety are also for disaster preparedness.

  • Assess your situation
  • Analyze your situation
  • Act appropriately.

 

Opinions whether you should prepare for disaster range from “Don’t worry about it” to “you should be very worried and be prepared for primitive living on a long-term” basis.  Preparing for a four-day disaster it may take up to two weeks.

Ultimately this is not a one-time “get ready” event, disaster preparations should be ongoing.  Just by preparing a little each week could keep you within budget and your means. September 2, 2017

 

This morning we woke up to the announcement by North Korea that they now have a hydrogen bomb and an ICBM to deliver it. I was planning on issuing my standard Disaster Response for the month of September. But I don’t think that may be totally possible anymore.

The worst-case scenario FEMA has prepared for are three 10 kiloton nuclear blasts on the same day. This would be the most likely scenario from terrorists. We should also be aware of kicking us when we are down and attacking when there are other disasters like Hurricane Harvey, the largest California wildfires in history, and large scale civilian unrest. Multiple disasters would just overload the system.

I only hope this is only more rhetoric in the ongoing media war between Korea, Trump, the main stream media, and a cadre of others vying for attention.

Several years ago we published a book. "Nuclear Terrorism, A Family Response Manual". Order your copy today on Amazon today. 

 

March 22, 2016

Our prayers go out to the people of Belgium this morning as they respond to the terrorist attacks.  As of right now we are still receving details.  As always we cannot control what other people do, so it is incumbent on us to be ever vigilant and prepare our family and communities for the likely tough days ahead.

 
September 1, 2015
 
Many of our friends and neighbors are still recovering from Superstorm Sandy from September 2012.   After all of our collective experience in the last generation from natural and man-made disasters we should not convince anyone on the need for disaster preparation.
 
The Department of Homeland Security recommends all Americans have an emergency kit with a minimum of 96 hours worth of supplies.
 
Everyone’s needs during an emergency are different.    Here are a few things to consider:
 
 
What are the likely emergencies/disasters you may face?
How many people are you responsible for?
What are the ages of the people you are responsible for?   Do you have young children; do you have elderly or people with health needs?
What do you need?  From flashlights, to diapers and first aid kits.  ATM’s will be down so you will need cash.
How much food, supplies, etc.?  You need 1 gallon of  drinking water for every person.  A family of four would need 28 gallons just for drinking water for a week.  This does not include sanitation needs.
Do you have food?  Is it food that everyone can or will eat during the disaster?  How will you prepare it? 
What are your storage requirements?  Are you living in a house, apartment, or condo?
What kind of paperwork do you need?  Insurance policies, retirement fund information, banking info, etc.?
Where are your evacuation locations?  Do we go to a friend or relatives house?  Is there a local community gathering area?
What is your budget for the situation?  How much money do you have to spend?  If you know what your budget limits are you can better prioritize what to get and when well before any emergency.  Clean water should always be a priority.
 
 
Remember the three A’s of safety are also for disaster preparedness.
 
Assess your situation
Analyze your situation
Act appropriately.
 
Opinions whether you should prepare for disaster range from “Don’t worry about it” to “you should be very worried and be prepared for primitive living on a long-term” basis.  Preparing for a four-day disaster it may take up to two weeks.
 
Ultimately this is not a one-time “get ready” event, disaster preparations should be ongoing.  Just by preparing a little each week could keep you within budget and your means.
 
This year we will be giving more information out specific to personal protective equipment needs.
 

 

Our Pledge to you:

1.  We will make legal and common sense recommendations for your business that will avoid problems, and decrease exposure.  The long term goal is to reduce your costs and liabilities, and reduce your risk to ZERO.

2.  We will motivate and train your employees to value safety.  Leadership training is part of every course we do.

3.  Small business is the back bone of  our economy.  Being a small business does not mean that you don't need a safety program.  Usually, it is critical that you have a safety program because one accident may mean a loss of clients and money out of your pocket.  We will work with you to create a safety culture at your company.

We are located in the Metro New York area, however we work nationally.

We look forward to working with you in the near future.

Jim Poesl MS, CIE

Managing Member

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