American Society of Safety Engineers’ Regional Vice President and Long Beach, Calif., resident Terrie S. Norris, is urging California residents in and around the effected areas to wear proper respiratory protective equipment, which can prevent acute and chronic respiratory illnesses by helping protect lungs from harmful gases and dusts during this time.
In addition, Norris encouraged residents and businesses to change their heating, ventilation and conditioning filters frequently until the ash has left the air. It is important after a catastrophe to have vents checked to assure that water heaters and gas furnaces are clear and operable, he said. Dust and debris can stop or impede airflow decreasing its quality and healthfulness
“With ash and debris so prevalent in the air at this time it is important to change the filters now and frequently during the next few weeks,” Norris said.
As for respiratory protection, Norris noted, “People need to wear the appropriate personal protection equipment when working in areas where ash is in the air or will be disturbed by clean-up activities.”
Respiratory protection is designed to help protect people from dusts, vapors and other air-borne toxicants. Respiratory protective devices come in a wide-range of designs to serve differing purposes.
“If you are returning to your neighborhood, to your home, and are exposed to the ash floating in the air I would recommend wearing at least a ‘nuisance dust mask’, but a ‘paper filter respirator’ would be even better,” Norris noted. “The visible difference between a dust mask and a paper respirator is the weight of the paper and how the filter fits your face. The nuisance dust masks are lightweight, generally have a single elastic strap and fit loosely over the nose. The paper respirators have two elastic straps to hold them in place, and most have a clip at the nose to provide a better fit.
There are many types of respirators for different types of situations noted in the following guidelines from the U. S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also found at www.osha.gov.
The American Soceity of Safety Engineers has a list of respiratory protection guidelines listed at: www.asse.org/newsroom/release.php?pressRelease=948.
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