Particulate Respirators, 42 CFR Part 84
On July 10, 1995, 30 Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) Part 11 respirator certification procedures were replaced by 42 CFR Part 84 procedures. Certification changes in 42 CFR Part 84 involved only non-powered, air-purifying, particulate filter respirators. Certification requirements for all other classes of respirators such as chemical cartridges, self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), airlines, gas masks without a particulate filter, and powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) equipped with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters were transferred to Part 84 without any changes.
The revised testing requirements for particulate filters are much more demanding than the old Part 11 tests and they provide much better evidence of the filter’s ability to remove airborne particles. The established testing criteria simulate worst-case respirator use. These particulate filters can be used without particle size analysis or filter penetration testing in the workplace.
Particulate respirators fall into nine different classes broken down into three levels of filter efficiency (95, 99 and 99.97%) and three categories of filter degradation (N, R and P). The selection of N-, R- and P-series filters depends on the presence or absence of oil particles. If no oil particles are present then any series filters (N-, R- or P-series) may be used. If oil particles are present then either an R- or P-series filter may be used. If oil particles are present and the filter is to be used for more than one work shift, then only a P-series filter may be used. N-series filters cannot be used if oil particles are present.
The service life of all three filter series (N, R and P) is limited by considerations of hygiene, damage and breathing resistance. All filters should be replaced whenever they are damaged, soiled or causing noticeable increased breathing resistance. Increased breathing resistance causes discomfort to the wearer.
The use and repeated use of N-series filters is limited by hygiene, damage and increased breathing resistance. When working in very dirty or dusty environments that can result in high filter loading, a filter’s service time should be limited to continuous or intermittent use of eight hours. This service time can be extended if an evaluation is done of the specific workplace setting to prove that extended use will not degrade the efficiency level of the respirator.
The R-series filters should only be used for one working shift (or for eight hours of continuous or intermittent use) when oil is present. Service time for R-series respirators can be extended using the same criteria as N-series respirators. An evaluation must be done of the specific workplace setting to prove that extended use will not degrade the efficiency level of the respirator.
Determinations for both N and R-series filters should be repeated whenever conditions change or modifications are made to processes that could change the type of particulate being generated.
Use and reuse of the P-series filters is subject only to considerations of hygiene, damage and increased breathing resistance.
To select the correct respirator for protection against particulates, the following conditions must be known:
- The identity and concentration of the particles in the workplace air.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) permissible exposure limit (PEL), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommended exposure limit, or other occupational exposure limit for the contaminant.
- The hazard ratio (HR) (i.e. the airborne particulate concentration divided by the exposure limit).
- The assigned protection factor (APF) for the class of respirator (the APF should be greater than the HR).
- The immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) concentration for the contaminant and whether oxygen levels are sufficient.
- Any service life information available for combination cartridges or canisters.
Multiplying the occupational exposure limit by the APF for a respirator gives the maximum workplace concentration in which that respirator can be used. For example, if the commonly accepted APF for a respirator is 10 and the PEL is five milligrams per cubic meter of air, then 50 milligrams per cubic meter of air is the highest workplace concentration in which the respirator can be used against that contaminant. In no case should an air-purifying respirator be used in IDLH atmospheres or in areas that are oxygen deficient, and, under no circumstances, you should never exceed the manufacturer's guidelines.
Find even more information you can use to help make informed decisions about the regulatory issues you face in your workplace every day. View all Quick Tips Technical Resources at www.grainger.com/quicktips.
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The content in this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only. This publication is not a substitute for review of the applicable government regulations and standards, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific compliance questions should refer to the cited regulation or consult with an attorney.
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