[fusion_text]Personal respirators have a come long way since the 19th century when fire fighters were required to have a full beard that they would soak with water and clamp in their teeth so that they that could filter smoke and airborne particulates. Or have they?
There has been improvement in lighter weight materials used in half masks during this time but the fact is that the level of technological improvement in terms of protection and comfort over the last 25+ years in personal respirators (until recently) has been minimal.
Manufacturers have the most part been consumed by the acquisition of technologies and this trend has bogged down progress and been largely responsible for the 3 key reasons safety and respiratory manufacturers have really been stuck in the 1990’s
#1 – Lack of Innovation: Until recently, the last real breakthrough in respirator filtration was in 1994 when NIOSH published new respirator regulations (42 CFR 84) that incorporated new, stringent particulate filtration tests. These regulations drove innovation in new filter technology and exhalation valve enhancements that opened easily during exhalation and allowed hot air and humidity to escape from the respirator more efficiently.
Since then, innovation for the most part taken place only in the form of improving comfort, fit, function, filter life and lowering costs but very little with respect to filtration and protection. This is true for both APR and PAPR system as well as disposable masks.
Respirator manufacturers will argue that making quantum technological leaps is too risky and will state that they are careful to make small improvements incrementally, made over the long term. However, this mindset does not foster innovation and the opportunity to provide a superior respirator and optimum protection to workers.
#2 – Lack of Design Changes: In the late 1970s, the first filtering facepiece respirator in disposable type respirators became available. It incorporated a valve that allowed the user to exhale humidity. Up to that point, the only respirators with a valve were uncomfortable rubber masks that required lots of cleaning and maintenance. The new filtering facepiece capabilities and technology significantly improved comfort especially in high heat and humidity conditions. These new masks also significantly improved worker acceptance and overall compliance.
However, here we are in 2017 and while there certainly have been ongoing incremental improvements to respirator design and usability until recently there has not been any revolutionary significant changes to respirator design and ergonomics.
This is especially true with APR and PAPR solutions. While some PAPR options have moved the power packs and fans from the waist to the head there have been very few changes to the actual fan motor and battery system.
In addition, most PAPR solutions have a tremendous number of parts, hoses, power cords and battery packs that are not self-contained and get in the way of the mask wearer.
#3 – Economics – Respirator economics is a function of the following respirator factors:
- Filter Usage per Operator
- Average Price per Filter
- Filter Usage (per Operator)
- Cost of replacement parts and maintenance
Based on these factors traditional PAPR solutions have a total cost of ownership of over $2,500 per user. The cost of ownership with traditional disposable solutions are even higher costs for some solutions costing over $4,000 per year per user.
Why are these costs so high? Other than lack of worker training, the short answer is “lack of innovation”.
In addition, as mentioned above, many traditional solutions have a tremendous amount of replacement parts and components. These parts can be very expensive and require a company to keep a large amount of “spare parts” on hand. This situation contributes significantly to cost of ownership.
The Good News – A Breath of Fresh Air Has Arrived in Respiratory Protection…
New, innovative, lightweight, self-contained and modern powered respirator solutions have finally become available (such as the CleanSpace2) and businesses now have the option to make smarter choices for higher protection, staff comfort and business efficiencies.
One exciting new option now available in the US market is the CleanSpace2 respirator. The CleanSpace2 system has successfully been is use in Europe and Australia for several years and is the world’s smallest powered respirator with breath responsive, patented technology for respiratory protection against particles and dust.
The CleanSpace technology builds on a combination of technologies found in today’s industrial respirators, medical respiratory ventilators and most notably, 21st century consumer electronics.
The CleanSpace2 uses a state of the art, proprietary micro-turbine motor/fan with the power and efficiency to deliver the required pressure and airflow for operating times of up to 8 hours. At the heart of the technology is the AirSensit™ smart operating system that monitors and adapts the flow to create a high protection and comfortable working mask.
Better yet, this new repository solution is based on a revolutionary, ergonomic and self-contained design. The soft silicone medical-style molded masks create an unprecedented level of comfort of the user.
Finally because of the smart design and self-contained ergonomics of the CleanSpace2 the needs to keep tons of spare parts around goes away and significantly lowers the cost of ownership.
So what does this all mean? It means that you do not have to be stuck in the 1990’s anymore and can offer your workers true 21st century respiratory protection and comfort.
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