In both industrial as well as healthcare applications, the air is usually contaminated with minute particles, which are often not visible to the human eye. If inhaled these particles can cause coughing, choking, respiratory and other health problems. While face masks are available which will filter these particles, they may not filter out all the particles. Additionally in some cases, the person also finds it difficult to breathe properly if he wears the face masks. Hence a large number of people are now switching to powered air purifying respirators (PAPR) which offer better filtration, while also being more comfortable to wear for the user.
The PAPR is designed so that it is more efficient compared to a face mask in removing the pollutants like dust, mist, fumes, and toxic gases in the air. The unit will usually include a hood, mask, hose, fan and filter. The fan is powered by a battery which is rechargeable. A charger is also supplied for the battery. When the papr is worn, the filter will trap all the particles in the air, so that only pure air remains. The pure air is then blown by the papr fan towards the face of the user, ensuring that he breathes clean air, even in polluted conditions
Using a PAPR
The instructions for using a PAPR will depend on the model used, manufacturer and the pollution levels in the air. The papr filter will trap the dust, chemicals, fumes and other particles in the air. Hence the manufacturer will recommend that the user should change the papr filter cartridges periodically. In some cases, especially in factories, with more pollutants, it is recommended that the filter should be replaced after each shift. Hence companies which require a large number of respirators for their staff should order the filter cartridges in bulk to save time and money.
Additionally the respirator should also be washed after it has been used, and left to dry, so that it can be reused again, whenever it is required. The battery for the fan is also drained after it has been used for more than six hours, so it should be kept for charging. Most face masks are designed only for short term use and get spoiled after they have been used repeatedly for a week or month. In addition to causing environmental pollution, purchasing new masks repeatedly can be expensive compared to purchasing a papr which is used for years.
The contaminants in the air will vary greatly depending on the industry sector, so many of the PAPR manufacturers prefer to specialize only in one sector. Some of the companies are focusing on the healthcare sector, where air purity is important. In other cases, companies focus on industrial applications like spray painting, metal cutting, drilling, woodwork in the mining, manufacturing, chemical processing, oil refinery sector. In these sectors, in addition to filtering the contaminants from the air, the PAPR should be comfortable to wear, so that the worker can do the work assigned without being hindered.