As an electrician, not only do you face the dangers of working with electricity, you also deal with the hazards of being in a construction environment. One of these hazards includes the respiratory particles you may be exposed to at certain job sites, especially when there is active construction or remodeling going on.
Many particles are harmless if they’re never disturbed, but workers in the construction industry are particularly prone to develop work-related illnesses since they can’t avoid cutting, sanding, and removing construction materials as they do their jobs. Appropriate respiratory protection is a necessity for any tradesperson exposed to potentially dangerous particles on the job.
Hazards Facing Electricians
Here are some of the most common respiratory hazards you’ll face on a job site, whether it’s a remodel of an old building or new construction.
● Dust is inevitable in any worksite, causing throat and lung irritation and potentially leading to permanent damage after long-term exposure. ● Lead is an element that was once used in paint. Over time, exposure to lead dust (released by cutting or sanding surfaces with lead paint) can damage the kidneys and nervous system. ● Asbestos is a mineral compound that used to be used frequently in home insulation, roofing materials, drywall, and vinyl floor tiles, just to name a few. Its use for these applications was banned in 1989, but you’ll most likely be around asbestos if you work in buildings constructed before this time. Asbestos exposure is known to cause mesothelioma (a cancer of the membranes in the chest and abdomen) and lung cancer, among others. There is no safe exposure limit for asbestos. ● Mold growth is typical in damp areas of a home, especially in humid climates. Breathing in mold spores can cause allergy-like reactions in some people. ● Fiberglass can irritate the nose and throat when inhaled. ● Silica is a mineral that is found in concrete and masonry. Sanding or cutting these materials can release silica dust, which can cause lung disease and lung cancer.
Types of Respirators
Disposable dust masks are fine when you’re just dealing with wood dust, but when working on jobs where any number of these other breathing hazards may be present, they simply do not offer adequate protection.
A dual cartridge respirator offers you much greater protection than a cloth or paper mask. You can get them in a full face or half face style, but they offer effective breathing protection when worn properly. These masks fit securely over your nose, mouth, and chin, and filters or cartridges are installed on the side.
Particulate filters come in different ratings. You’ll usually see them with an N (meaning it can’t filter out oil-based particles) and P (which can filter out oil-based particles). The number after the letter is the percentage of particles it filters out. A filter with a P100 rating is the most effective filter, and it’s the one needed to protect against asbestos and lead.
Cartridges offer protection from particles as well as from gas and vapors. They are color-coded and come in many varieties, depending on the type of vapors and fumes you need to filter out.
While a dual cartridge respirator is much safer than a disposable mask, remember that if it doesn’t fit properly or if you take it off, it’s not doing its job. Wear your respirator whenever you’re exposed to breathing hazards to protect your health now and for years to come.
(Reblogged from ElectricianTalk.com - https://www.electriciantalk.com/articles/lung-protection-for-electricians/)