Friday, November 18, 2016

Smoke- Respirator Use

Working in Smokey Conditions

There has been some concern about breathing during these times with smokey conditions prevalent over most of our area.  The link here:  Respirator for use during smokey conditions  takes you to a pdf that will describe the proper minimum respirator for use by individuals working outside in smokey areas.  Keep in mind this does not apply to areas close to the actual fires or where there are large particulates of ashes in the air.  Additional protection may be required. 

Also as indicate in the article you should contact your medical doctor before wearing any respirator. One note is that starting in January if you use a respirator as part of your work- applying pesticides, dusts, fertilizers, etc or working in other conditions that would require respiratory protection;  you will need to have the respirator test fitted for your face and conditions.  There are various health issues that will preclude your use of typical respirators.  Beards and other facial hair may also make wearing a respirator difficult due to the inability to properly get a seal to eliminate air movement around the perimeter of the respirator.   

Our recommendation is that if you or your employees have health issues or encounter breathing difficulties working in conditions where the air quality is compromised; that you cease working in those areas and go inside until the conditions subside.  If you can access proper respiratory protection devices then use them on a limited basis with reductions in the time you spend outside.   Be sure that you know the life span of the respirator that you will be using.  Once the device or filter cartridges are exposed to the air (particularly polluted air)  they begin to age. As the filter gets full of particulates the functional use of the device declines and will need to be replaced.    

If you or someone on your staff has known health issues it would be well advised that they be assigned to working in a structure with filter air.  Nothing that you have planned to do over the next few weeks are more important than the health and well being of you or your staff.     

For more information contact your local Cooperative Extension Center and ask for the Commercial Horticulture Agent.