The International Society for Respiratory Protection

pdf Vol. 33. No. 2. 2016 pp. 36 - 52 Sinkule (open access)

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Physiologic Effects from Using Tight- and Loose- Fitting Powered Air-Purifying Respirators on Inhaled Gases, Peak Pressures, and Inhalation Temperatures During Rest and Exercise

Edward J Sinkule, Jeffrey B Powell, Elaine N Rubinstein Linda McWilliams, Tyler Quinn, MS, and Marco Pugliese

The goal of this investigation was to evaluate the physiologic stresses of powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) used by workers in many industries (e.g., health care, automobile repair, public safety, building trades, etc.) during rest and three levels of energy expenditure. Twelve men and twelve women wore one tight-fitting and three loose-fitting PAPRs at rest (REST) and while walking for four minutes at oxygen consumption (V̇O2) rates of 1.0 l·min-1(LOW), 2.0 l·min-1 (MODERATE), and 3.0 l·min-1 or maximum (HIGH). Minimum inhaled carbon dioxide concentration (FICO2), maximum inhaled oxygen concentration (FIO2), peak inhalation pressure, and end inhalation temperature were measured continuously breath-by-breath. Repeated measures analysis of variance found that neither the main effect of gender, nor any interactions involving gender were significant. The highest minimum FICO2 among PAPRs occurred for MODERATE and HIGH energy expenditures while wearing the loose-fitting PAPR with the largest dead space. The lowest maximum FIO2 was observed during HIGH intensity energy expenditure also for the loose-fitting PAPR with the largest dead space. Among all PAPR models, peak inhalation pressures were negative at V̇O2 > LOW, suggesting that peak inhalation flow was greater than blower flow. Results using the variables reported here suggest that PAPRs used at various levels of energy expenditure may be tolerated among healthy workers. Further research is needed to determine the source of supplemented air when inhalation flow exceeds blower flow.

Keywords: PAPR, respiratory protection, inhaled gas, peak pressure, overbreathing, inhaled temperature, personal protective equipment.