What’s the deal with #PPE? You’ve probably heard this term quite a bit lately:
PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is what we all wear to keep our employees safe and keep you safe. There are a couple of different pieces of PPE that we use on a regular basis. PPE is worn to help prevent the spread of disease, to protect a person from harmful chemicals, and to prevent overall injury.
1. Respirators – We use a variety of different respirators depending on the job. The most common, and now the most in demand is the n95 particulate respirator. The n95 is a tight fitting respirator that is measured to be effective up to 0.3 microns.
Wait… what is a micron and how small is it? Particles in the air are measured in micrometers (microns, μm), with one micron being one-millionth of a meter, or 1/25,400th of an inch. The smallest particles we can see with our eyes are those that are larger than 50 micrometers, such as the larger specks of dust collected on our furniture.
Here are some common airborne particles and their typical measured size:
- Pollen, mold, plant spores: 7 – 70 μm
- Anthrax spore: 6 μm
- Hairspray: 3 – 10 μm
- Large bacteria: 1 – 20 μm
- Cooking smoke/odors: 0.30 – 1 μm
- Paint pigments: 0.30 – 1 μm
- Dust: 0.20 – 8 μm
- Pet dander: 0.15 – 8 μm
- Small bacteria: 0.08 – 1 μm
- Tobacco smoke: 0.008 – 0.6 μm
- Viruses: 0.005 – 0.01 μm
With all of these particulates, you can see why the n95 in particular is in such high-demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. At Duckstein Restoration, many of our employees facing dangerous particulates on a regular basis are equipped with reusable respirators. Reusable respirators are respirators that either cover the nose and mouth (half-face) or cover the entire face (full-face), have replaceable filters (aka cartridges) that need to be replaced in order for them to be effective. There are 3 different types of filters used in reusable respirators cartridges:
- Particulate Cartridges – This cartridge filters only aerosols (such as mold, bacteria, etc.)
- Gas & Vapor Cartridges – This cartridge filters only gases and vapors. There are different filters depending on the gas or vapor present.
- Combination Cartridges – This cartridge filters particulates, gases and vapors. Different filters may be required depending on the gas or vapor present.
Great, but how to do they work? The filters capture particles through the mechanisms of impaction, interception and diffusion. Additionally, these filters are enhanced with electrostatically charged fibers to help trap particulates within the filter media. As particulate filters load up with the contaminant, they typically become more efficient; however, they also become harder to breathe through.
2. Tyvek Suits – What the heck is a Tyvek suit?
Perhaps you’ve seen the show, “Breaking Bad”
Manufactured by DuPont, a trusted leader for a variety of products and around for decades, Tyvek coveralls are available in a variety of styles — Type 4, 5 and 6. All of these have been widely tested by DuPont which leads the market in all standard testing for inward leakage, penetration and permeation.
They work well in repelling liquids and aerosols forming an excellent barrier against fine particles and fibres. The suit is anti-statically treated and has extremely low linting thanks to the unique nonwoven fabric that the suit is engineered from.
The suits are also abrasion resistant as they are not made using films or laminates that can wear off over time thus providing long term durability and use. In addition, the suit does not shed or contain any additives or fillers.
These suits can be used for a number of applications such as industrial safety, pharmaceutical, biological hazard protection, chemical protection, etc as they are engineered keeping safety in mind thus allowing the wearer to focus on the task at hand rather than worrying about the risk of contamination or exposure. These suits also excel in work environments that call for protection from human contamination such as crime scenes, laboratories, etc.
Although Duckstein Restoration doesn’t recommend using Tyvek suits or full-face respirators for Walter White-like activities, you can rest-assured that you now have the skinny on PPE.