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N95 Day 2014: Respirator Preparedness – Where Technology Meets Good Practices

Categories: Observances, Personal Protective Equipment, Respiratory Health

know logo2N95 Day is finally here again. We hope that you have been looking forward to it as much as we have! N95 Day has become an annual observance, now in its third year. This year we are focusing on the specific theme of “Respiratory Preparedness: Where Technology Meets Good Practices.” Confidence and familiarity with proper respirator practices is important for employers, respiratory protection program managers, and safety managers in all industries who rely on N95 respiratory protection to help keep workers safe. The education to build this familiarity must happen before the time comes where a respirator is needed.

Reaching Towards a Healthier, Safer Workplace:NIOSH looks at healthcare worker familiarity with recommended respiratory protection practices

Categories: Health care, Personal Protective Equipment

Every day healthcare workers (HCWs) make decisions about the best way to protect themselves. What would you do if you entered the room of a new patient and noticed symptoms such as fever and a mucus-producing cough? As a HCW, you must then ask yourself, “What type of disease does the patient have? What sort of precautions should I take to protect myself because the patient may have an infectious disease?” While it is your employer’s responsibility to provide policies, programs, training, and guidance on respirator use, it is the health care workers who implement these procedures.  Do you know when to use respiratory protection? If so, do you understand what type of protection to choose and how to use it properly?

Coccidioidomycosis: An Enduring Work-Related Disease

Categories: Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing, Construction, Emergency Response/Public Sector, Oil and Gas, Outdoor Work, Personal Protective Equipment, Respiratory Health

A prison located in an arid, hyperendemic area of the Central Valley of California. There is little natural vegetation on the grounds and in the surrounding areas. Photograph by NIOSH.

Background

Coccidioidomycosis, also known as Valley Fever, is a disease caused by the fungus Coccidioides. The fungus grows in the soil in very dry areas. Coccidioidomycosis is endemic (native and common) in the southwestern United States, the Central Valley of California, Mexico, and parts of Central and South America [CDC 2013a]. About 150,000 new infections have been estimated to occur each year in the United States [Galgiani et al. 2005] but only about 22,000 cases were reported in 2011 in the United States. This suggests that the disease is greatly underreported [CDC 2013b]. The apparent incidence of reported coccidioidomycosis increased from 1998 to 2011, from 5.3 cases per 100,000 population in the endemic area (Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah) in 1998 to 42.6 cases per 100,000 in 2011, although concern has been expressed that some of this increase might be related to changes in surveillance definitions, laboratory practices, and increased awareness leading to increased testing for the disease [CDC 2013b].

Do We Need to Challenge Respirator Filters With Biological Aerosols?

Categories: Personal Protective Equipment, Respiratory Health

Figure 1. Typical particle sizes found in various workplace and environmental aerosols. The dashed green line represents the 0.3 um mass median aerodynamic diameter (MMAD) sodium chloride aerosol used by NIOSH for respirator filter testing of N95-class air purifying respirators. Note: adapted from various sources.(16-18)

The purpose of this NIOSH Science Blog is to explain what is currently known about an important aspect of respirator filtration.  For decades, respirator researchers have been asked whether filters need to be tested with aerosols similar to those encountered in the environment (Figure 1).  Common sense suggests that viruses or bacteria are collected differently from engineered nanoparticles, silica dusts, oil mists or other types of workplace aerosols.

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