H1N1 Flu Scare Prompts Questions
Why not optimally protect our front line emergency personnel?
Irvine, CA – May 6, 2009 — Front line laboratory, medical, and civil service personnel are critical to the containment and cure of the virus. While out there working to save our lives, are they deployed with proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to keep them safe?
Or, are they only minimally protected due to out-of-date information?
News reports everywhere are full of images of people wearing simple masks. Some are N95 respirator masks. Rarely, as recently in some AP photos (right), do we see use of more optimum PPE for protection against aerosolized and droplet pathogens as bacteria and virus.
Is it because protection from different devices is about the same? Definitely Not. Most masks in current news reports are simple dust masks or surgical masks that were not even designed to provide OSHA recommended protection against the spread of bacteria and virus.
OSHA only recommends1 N95 Mask Respirators as the minimum PPE for these situations, but they are limited to a 95% filtration efficiency rating.
What is less known is that this performance is only valid when the N95’s have been properly fit tested2. Fit testing must be done in a test environment, which is no assurance that the mask is properly fit when in actual use. Actual on the job working efficiencies for those that pass a fit test are difficult to maintain.
Worse, many people with different facial irregularities, particularly men with facial hair (mustaches, beards) will not pass fit testing. Masks are not recommended if you don’t pass a fit test.
Another, higher performance respirator type is the PAPR, Powered Air Purifying Respirator. Brands and configurations of PAPRs are readily available, as the MAXAIR System from Bio-Medical Devices Intl, and provide 99.97% filtering efficiency due to their HE Level filters. Because of their positive pressure design, (versus negative pressure masks) they do not need to be fit tested3. PAPRs achieve this much higher protection level for virtually anyone who wears them, without testing and regardless of facial characteristics.
Aren’t PAPRs only for in-laboratory use? Quite the contrary. PAPRs can be lightweight and compact to allow normal activity maneuverability in most any environment. MAXAIR, for example, has even eliminated the awkward air hose and bulky belt mounted blower unit of conventional PAPR designs so that simple activities, like mowing the lawn, can be comfortable.
Are they safe enough for daily use? PAPRs are routinely acquired by hospitals to protect their staff for emergency preparedness situations. Designs like the MAXAIR 700 even provide real time visual display status of continuously self-monitored filter air flow and battery charge remaining. This insures the wearer that everything is fine, all during actual use.
Aren’t PAPRs too costly? They may be for individuals who are not that likely to be close, within 3 feet, of a person infected with the H1N1 Influenza. But not for those with a likely high exposure to a critically infectious and potentially death causing disease.
For multiple personnel, particularly our front line laboratory, medical and civil service people, this is not the case. They are often in high risk positions and they should have the optimum protection to be able to safely continue their work to contain and develop cures for these infectious diseases.
With continuing decreases in disposable costs as with the cuff and face seal of the MAXAIR PAPR, the overall 3-5 year useful life cost projections are comparable, and can even be less than the proper implementation of masks.
And, in another perspective, individuals will spend $800-$1,200 and more for an exercise tread mill because its long term use can help maintain their health. A PAPR like MAXAIR is less than that, will last as long as a tread mill, and may save their life!
About Bio-Medical Devices:
Bio-Medical Devices is a recognized leader in developing, manufacturing, and marketing innovative and cost effective personal respiratory systems for health, pharmaceutical, bio-research, and industrial applications.
For more information contact Michael Wang, Marketing Manager, Bio-Medical Devices Intl, 800-443-3842, [email protected], or visit www.maxair-systems.com.
H1N1 Flu Scare Prompts Questions
Washington Post – Link to AP Photos of MAXAIR in use re: H1N1 Influenza
PDF – More information on – H1N1 Flu Scare Prompts Questions
2Regulations (Standards – 29 CFR) , Fit Testing Procedures (Mandatory). – 1910.134 App A, www.osha.gov
3Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Guidance for Healthcare Workers and Healthcare Employers, OSHA 3328-05, 2007, http://www.osha.gov/Publications/3328-05-2007-English.html