Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Good heavens, this stuff tastes gross! Last night's class on respirators ended with a call for volunteers to go through a qualitative fit-test with a filtering face-piece respirator. How do you know if it's a respirator or a dust mask? If it says NIOSH, it's a respirator. There being only 6 people in the class, it's not as though one can hide in the back of the room. No one seemed to be leaping at the opportunity, so I volunteered. I guess there's benefits of being the oldest student - I'm pretty immune to most things that embarrass my younger classmates. I've never done qualitative fit testing before, only the quantitative method. They used bitrex as the sensory stimulus. They asked if I knew what it tasted like, simply to avoid having to check. I got a whiff of it once, being in close proximity to someone getting this done. Blech. Since we weren't waiting 1 minute for each of these activities (reading, turning head, lifting chin, etc), I was getting one whopping huge amount of bitrex pumped into the Bag On Head. They're looking kind of curious - I'm not sure why. The whole point is to demonstrate that even an N95 (read: not an N100) is perfectly capable of protecting against this stuff. Then ... wham. The standard bug-eyed, open mouth, sounds of disgust and grabbing for the hood. An hour later walking through campus with some classmates, I licked my lips only to realize it was still there. I think recommending employees rinse their face should be required, whether or not they fail. I failed on the step requiring someone to bend over. I'm not toooo surprised. It wasn't fitting really well under my chin. I was actually surprised it fit as well as it did. I'm curious about what size I was wearing - despite being a woman, I have a fairly broad face. I wear a size Large for full-face respirators, and depending on the manufacturer either Medium or Large for the half-face fitted ones. Yet another reason to offer multiple sizes to employees and make them try on more than one size. Of course you have them, because you're required to (1910.134 Apdx A - first point made) - but you should make them try more than one. Curiously, a rep from 3M told me that different chemicals are used in different countries. Not a surprising statement, eh? But ... apparently there is a distinct difference in sensitivity to some of the compounds. Americans have a lower sensitivity to one of the sweet-smelling chemicals, presumably due to the high sugar content of our regular diets.