A History of Respirators

A History of Respirators

Throughout history, air pollution has been a problem.  Not only smog but fumes from excessive coal use in households as well as dirty air released from manufacturing, mining and increased emissions from industrial processes.  Respirators were invented.

Londoners even coined a phrase, “pea-soupers,” because, since the 14th Century, London has been affected by thick smog.

Because of poor air, civilizations learned to deal with air pollution by using respirators of different types whether basic or technologically advanced.

Pliny the Elder, Library of Congress [Public domain]

Pliny the Elder, Library of Congress [Public domain]

In the first century A.D., an inventor named Pliny, the Elder, utilized an animal bladder to protect Roman miners from inhaling lead oxide dust.  Although primitive, his idea was considered the very first recorded respirator invention.

In the 16th century, Leonardo da Vinci proposed using a woven cloth dipped in water over the face to protect against the toxic chemicals used in chemical warfare.

Expanding on the need for protection of the industrial worker’s lungs, inventors offered other solutions in the centuries that followed.

In 1849, Lewis Phectic Haslett invented the “Lung Protector” which allowed a mouthpiece fitted with two clapper valves and used a wool filter to keep out dust.  The first U.S. patent, US 6529, for a “Lung Protector” was recorded in 1849 and was for a respirator that utilized one-way valves moistened with sheep wool to filter dust.

In 1860, A Scottish chemist, John Stenhouse, decided to use charcoal in a wide variety of air-purifying devices.  He invented the first respirator that captured toxic gases from the air.  He especially wanted to protect firemen and first responders.

John Stenhouse Mask, Public Domain

John Stenhouse Mask, Public Domain

As even more, innovative scientific minds gained interest in air purifying devices, a race occurred to develop respirators that could protect against a broader range of air pollutants, such as hazardous gases.

In 1871, British physicist John Tyndall took Stenhouse’s mask, added a filter of cotton wool saturated with lime, glycerin, and charcoal, and invented a “fireman’s respirator,” a hood that filtered smoke and gas from air.  Mr. Tyndall exhibited this respirator at a meeting of the Royal Society in London in 1874.

Also in 1874, Samuel Barton patented a device that ‘permitted respiration in places where the atmosphere is charged with noxious gases, or vapors, smoke, or other impurities.’  The first to include rubber and a metal hood structure, the Samuel Barton Respirator had a filter located in front and two eyepieces made of glass. The metal canister design contained lime, glycerin-soaked cotton wool, and charcoal.

Haslett Gas Mask, Frogstorm

Haslett Gas Mask, Frogstorm

In 1879, Hutson Hurd’s design improved on the design of the Haslett Lung protector and invented the design of the cup-shaped mask.  The Hutson Hurd’s H.S. Cover Company manufactured these cup-shaped masks well into the 1970s.

Respirator Inventions World War I

After World War I,  the military became much more involved and developed an intense interest in the use of respirators primarily as a defense mechanism against chemical warfare. Because of the military interest and money, the advances in the creation of inexpensive, useful filters increased in the 1930s.  The filters were initially made with resin-infused dust and were further developed using fine particulates of glass fiber that could eliminate particulate matter.  The design of the filter helped with the breathing ability that was not inhibited by the filters.

Post World War I

After World War I, the United States and the United Kingdom faced some of the worst air pollution cases in history.

In 1943, Los Angeles, California (LA), long known for its poor air quality, suffered from its first smog incident. LA’s factories and massive vehicle industry were to blame for the smog.

Nelson's Column during the Great Smog of 1952

Nelson’s Column during the Great Smog of 1952

In December of 1952, the “great smog” or “big smoke” caused the city of Long to be engulfed in a thick layer of air smog which lasted for five days and resulted in 12,000 plus fatalities and 100,000 reported cases of respiratory illness.  The smog was caused by the cold weather, lack of wind and the subsequent use of too much coal to heat the country.

In 1965, the Army provided an Emergency Respirator that consisted of Lucite, machined channels and a cover place that was secured by screws or adhesive.  The mask did not have any moving parts but did have an amplifier that air could flow through.  The technology was developed by the Harry Diamond Laboratories which later became part of the United States Army Research Laboratory.

The Future of Respirators

According to the World Health Organization, the top three of most air-polluted cities in the word rated by Particulate Matter (PM) concentration are 1) Kanpur, India, 2) Faridabad, India, and 3) Gaya, India.  Other countries have issues including Pakistan, Uganda, China, and Qatar.  Global air pollution problems and continuing climate change will put pressure on developing countries and will allow more advancements in the use of respirators.

The pain of Kanpur, NDTV

The pain of Kanpur, NDTV

The bigger the monetary fine, the more public health exposure, the more advancement of air pollution initiatives will continue.  Labor laws, like the OSHA’s Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard standard for both Construction and General Industry, will become more refined to help protect workers.  Because of the laws, respirators will continue to advance technologically.

Respirator technology is becoming sleeker, and most people wear primitive forms of respirators, like surgical masks, for protection.  Surgical masks only work for airborne viruses and not air pollutants.  In Japan, young people have used surgical masks as a fashion accessory to not only cover the face but protect from airborne viruses.

The human factor of respirators of the future will depend on comfortable fit, the mood of the wearer, and the actual protection the respirator provides, especially in an industrial environment.

The need for raising awareness of protecting your lungs from air pollution continues to be profound.  Surgical masks will not work to eliminate PM, and in industrial situations, specific processes should always have the employee where a respirator mask.

To learn more about DynaGrace Enterprises mission for Helping People Breathe Cleaner Air visit this page -> https://dynagrace.com/capabilities/air-quality/

DynaGrace Enterprises Awarded the GSA Schedule 66

DynaGrace Enterprises Awarded the GSA Schedule 66

GSA Schedule 66 Announcement

GSA Schedule 66 Announcement

DynaGrace Enterprises, a WOSB, professional services company has been awarded the GSA Schedule 66 – Scientific Equipment and Services Schedule Contract.  The first women-owned firm in Utah to be a vendor on that prestigious GSA schedule.

It’s more than DUST.  The employee who works in a dusty environment is exposed to a deadlier form of dust, silica.  The average person is also exposed to a massive amount of air pollution that you can see with the human eye.  DynaGrace Enterprises helps people breathe cleaner air by providing products and services for monitoring respirable dust particles and visible emissions.

“This federal government contracting vehicle enables us to reach more occupational health and safety managers as well as those agencies concerned with worker safety and air quality regulation and compliance, “ stated Linda Rawson, President, and Founder of DynaGrace Enterprises.

The arduous process of getting the prestigious GSA schedule was made easier by utilizing the State of Utah’s, Governor’s Office of Economic Development program of offering a referral to LSI’s GSA consulting assistance from PTAC.  Linda Rawson states, “LSI was another member of our team, and I consulted with them often to ensure I was answering the questions appropriately.”

The respirable dust products surround the Nanozen DustCount 8899, a real-time, wearable, respirable dust monitor.  Instantaneous reporting makes compliance with OSHA Respirable Crystalline Silica

Master Sgt. Donnie Bogan saws cutting lines in concrete

Master Sgt. Donnie Bogan saws cutting lines in concrete, licensed under the terms of the United States Government Work.

standard easy.  The Nanozen DustCount 8899, a real-time, wearable, respirable dust monitor detects air particulates down to a microscopic level in real-time.

OSHA has recently changed the Respirable Crystalline Silica Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) to 50 mg/m3 for 8 hours and the Action Limit to 25 mg/m3.  Employers need to evaluate and control the exposure limit for their employees.

One way to do that is to have a worker wear the DustCount, for 8 hours and obtain the Total Weight Average (TWA).  The rugged DustCount fits into a vest pocket or clips on a belt.  The results can be analyzed real-time and downloaded at the end of the shift.  The filter is then sent to an AIHA approved lab to be analyzed for silica levels.

The second product line surrounds visible emissions and offers a Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) called Digital Opacity Compliance System (DOCS) by Virtual Technology LLC out of Arizona.  The system can determine plume opacity from smoke, soot, and visible dust.  Some of these are necessary, but the software helps determine how much is too much.  The software ensures EPA Method 9 compliance and EPA Method 22 for the frequency of emissions.

Scientific professional services are also available including Data Security Analyst, Software Systems Engineer, Technical Writing and Editing, Technical Support and Visible Emission Consulting.

Linda Rawson passionately says “Let’s face it.  We don’t want anybody years from now spitting a piece of their lung on the sidewalk from silicosis.  We are deeply concerned about the air quality of the nation.  We are concerned with the air people breathe both at work and in their daily lives and want to make sure the air is safer.”

Customers can learn more about DynaGrace Enterprises by visiting the company’s website at DynaGrace.com or by calling the company directly at 888-676-0058.  DynaGrace Enterprises will be at the AIHA conference in the Nanozen booth #1502.

Read the official press release here -> DynaGrace Enterprises Awarded the GSA Schedule 66 – Scientific Equipment and Services

Construction Dust:  Are You at Risk?

Construction Dust: Are You at Risk?

Construction dust as the name implies is referred to as dust generated on construction sites; and is of various types. Dust can be dirty as well as causes nuisance. However, most importantly, it can also cause severe health damage, sometimes with long-term consequences.

Types of Dust

Silica Dust Particles

Silica Dust Particles

There are three main types of dust:

  • Silica dust: Silica is a natural mineral found in sand, sandstone, and granite in large quantities. Many building materials such as concrete and mortar are also commonly seen. During many everyday tasks such as cutting, drilling, and grinding, silica is broken into a very fine dust (also known as Respirable Crystalline Silica or RCS). Silicium dust is often called silica.
  • Non-silica dust: Where silica is not found or present in meager quantities, there are some construction products. Gypsum, cement, calcareous, marble and dolomite are the most common. When cutting things like bricks, this dust is also mixed with silica dust.
  • Wood dust: Wood is widely used in building and is found in two primary forms: softwood and hardwood. Wood-based products, including MDF and chipboard, are also commonly used.

Causes of Dust

Building workers have a particularly high risk of developing health problems due to prolonged exposure to high dust levels. OSHA’s silica standard for general industry and maritime took effect June 23, 2018. The agency estimates that 2.3 million workers are exposed to silica dust annually.

Related Article OSHA Published Silica Standard FAQ

On a construction site, there are many routine tasks that can produce high dust levels:

Sandblaster

Sandblaster

  • Cutting paving blocks, curbs, and flags.
  • Chase concrete and mortar raking.
  • Sweeping dry area of the site.
  • Cutting roof tiles.
  • Concrete scabbling or grinding or other construction materials.
  • Soft demolition of strips.
  • Woodcuts and sanding.
  • Sanding taped and covered plasterboard joints.

The 2002 regulations of Health Hazardous Substances Control (COSHH) regulate activities that may expose workers to building dust. It provides employers with a legal obligation to prevent or adequately control the exposure of workers and requires risk assessment and control and control.

Health risks

Dust builds up in the lungs and, while the effects may not be immediately apparent, exposure to high levels of dust can lead to permanent damage to the lungs and airways over a prolonged period. Some of the diseases mostly affect construction workers are related to dust include lung cancer which is silicosis. Chronic obstructive pulmonary illness (COPD) which is asthma.

Risk Assessment

There are some factors that contribute to the risks from dust: The more energy involved the work increases the risk. In a very short time, high-energy tools such as cut-off saws, grinders and grit blasters produce much dust. Depending on how close the work area is, dust will build up. The longer the work takes, the more dust. Doing the same work day after day increases the risk of hazardous dust exposure.

Have your employees wear a real-time DustCount 8899 – Respirable Dust Monitor – Click Here to Learn More

For a full copy of the General Industry FAQ please see this link -> https://www.osha.gov/dsg/topics/silicacrystalline/generalindustry_info_silica.html

Helping People Breathe Cleaner Air with Dust Monitor

Helping People Breathe Cleaner Air with Dust Monitor

DGE Announcement of Nanozen DustCount

DGE Announcement of Nanozen DustCount

DynaGrace Enterprises today announced that they are expanding their product line to include state-of-the-art technology to monitor air quality.  The Nanozen DustCount 8899, a real-time, wearable, respirable dust monitor detects air particulates down to a microscopic level in real-time.

OSHA has recently changed the Respirable Crystalline Silica Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) to 50 mg/m3 for 8 hours and the Action Limit to 25 mg/m3.

Employers need to evaluate and control the exposure limit for their employees.

Related article:  OSHA Publishes Silica Standard FAQ

One way to do that is to have a worker wear the DustCount, for 8 hours and obtain the Total Weight Average (TWA).  The rugged DustCount fits into a vest pocket or clips on a belt.  The results can be analyzed real-time and downloaded at the end of the shift.  The filter is then sent to an AIHA approved lab to be analyzed for silica levels.

“A problem in the workforce is getting the worker to wear a mask while working in environments heavily laden with dust.  The respirator masks are hot and uncomfortable and lower productivity in an industrial environment,”  stated Linda Rawson, President, and CEO of DynaGrace Enterprises.  “Determining what work processes have high exposure and requiring the worker to wear the mask only during those periods is a win-win scenario for both the employer and the worker.”

DynaGrace Enterprises accepted the opportunistic challenge from Nanozen because of their passion for Air Quality and the safety of the industrial worker.

Products, like the Nanozen DustCount 8899, are making a difference.  In 2017 OSHA reported 45,800 fewer nonfatal injury and illness cases compared to the 2016 statistics reported by the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII).  The CDC age-adjusted statistics report that the death rate for Silicosis during the period of 2005-2014, went from 1.65 Male, .03 Female, per million in 2005 down to .69 Male, .01 Female in 2014. The statistics should only get better because of the new OSHA standard.

Linda Rawson passionately says “Let’s face it.  We don’t want anybody years from now spitting a piece of their lung on the sidewalk from silicosis.”

Customers can learn more about DynaGrace Enterprises by visiting the company’s website at DynaGrace.com or by calling the company directly at 888-676-0058.  DynaGrace Enterprises will be at the AIHA conference in the Nanozen booth #1502.

Read the Press Release here ->DynaGrace Enterprises is Helping People Breathe Cleaner Air

Silica: A Brief History

Silica: A Brief History

Two male industrial workers exposed to silica dust

Two male industrial workers who were inside a West Virginia ceramics factory, Public Domain Picture by CDC

From the day we’re born, taking a deep breath is something we all take for granted.  Silica in an industrial environment is common place.

Adults breathe 12 – 20 times a minute when they are resting.

As humans, we take between 17,000 – 30,000 breaths a day, and the total length of the airways in our lungs is estimated to be 1491 miles (2,400 km.) The equivalent of Denver, Colorado to New York City, NY in travel! However, every breath you take has the potential to cause silicosis.  Especially if you work in an environment where you are exposed to respirable crystalline silica (RCS).

What is silica?

Silica is a fundamental component of soil, sand, granite and many other minerals and is found in many places on Earth. The most common form of silica is Quartz (the other two have cristobalite and tridymite). All three forms create breathable particles when workers chip, cut, drill or grind objects containing silica.

Related article:  OSHA Publishes Silica Standard FAQ

Silica, is a primary component of the Earth’s crust, is present in a wide range of industrial and non-industrial environments and consumer products (including many cosmetics and cat litter).

The breathing of the silica dust generated from these activities can have a devastating effect on health, which can cause lung cancer and silicosis.

When we talk about the dangers of silica, the word “silicosis” immediately comes to mind.

Silicosis itself tends to be linked to mining. The weakening lung disease, caused by the inhalation of crystalline silica dust, has flourished in medical, political and social policy responses and has captured the public imagination expressed in popular culture, from mining ballads to representative art.

There are legitimate reasons for this – not least the massive harm to the lungs caused by the disease.  Silicosis has precedence of being a dangerous occupational disease and has made its mark in the mining industry in the global economy.

However, when it comes to silicosis, the mining industry is not the full story, and silicosis is not the primary disease when it comes to silica risks.

Since the 1990s, medical science has re-evaluated the potential role of silica in triggering inflammatory diseases, autoimmune diseases which include systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, and sarcoidosis. Although it was previously thought to be harmful only when inhaled in the form of dust, the question now arises whether exposure to silica in other forms can also be risky.

The road from safety to occupational health, industrial hygiene and well-being may be a long and winding road, but as practitioners, we get the hierarchy of control measures. If we all took the time to consider RCS and whether our existing control measures were designed to ensure routine maintenance and control of RCS, we would each contribute to reducing the number of people dying of silicosis and keep the worker safe.

References:

https://rospaworkplacesafety.com/2016/06/29/every-breath-you-take-a-brief-history-of-silica-and-silicosis/

http://www.sciencespo.fr/silicosis/content/silica-and-silicosis-history

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