Breathing air systems are required in many of the modern world’s major industries, including the petrochemical, oil and gas, pharmaceutical, mining, tunnelling and energy industries. Here, the various kinds of respiratory protective equipment are considered essential tools that save lives.
The type of breathing apparatus chosen depends on a number of factors. With the undertaking of an accurate risk assessment of the environment,along with the demands of the job in hand, an appropriate choice may be made from a selection of breathing air systems.
First of all is the Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA). This particular type of equipment is worn by first responders and emergency services professionals such as fire fighters, and also by industrial workers who hare exposed to highly toxic environments that directly and seriously endanger human health.
Another of the most commonly used breathing air systems is that of the Airline Breathing Apparatus. This breathing equipment provides a supply of air to the wearer via a medium or high pressure hose that is connected to a stationary source of breathable air.
The supply of air is delivered to the wearer either continuously or intermittently, depending on the needs of the user. Some manufacturers of this kind of equipment offer the wearer a back up supply of breathable air with the addition of a compressed air cylinder to the original airline system. This is intended to protect the wearer if their main supply is disrupted.
Another option when choosing from a range of breathing air systems is the Air Purifying Respirator. These use cartridges or canisters to remove particles and contaminants from the air in the particular work environment, and are commonly used where the environment presents no immediate and severe danger to human health.
These kinds of breathing air systems can rely on the user’s inhalation to draw air through the filters in place, or use a blower to ‘suck in’ ambient air to meet the wearer’s breathing requirements. These are often used in the pharmaceutical and automotive industries.
Escape respirators are breathing air systems that are specially designed to, as the name suggests, escape from hazardous environments in a short duration of time, normally spanning from 5 to 15 minutes. These can be ideal for helping users escape from dangerous situations such as fires.They are also often used with the airline system as a ‘back up’ air supply in emergencies.
The final type of apparatus in the range of breathing air systems is the Chemical Oxygen Self Rescuer. This is an escape device that is used to help the user remove him or herself from situations where toxic gases and particles are present or where there is oxygen deficiency.
This differs from the other breathing air systems by using the chemical reaction between Potassium Super oxide and exhaled air to generate oxygen which can then be used by the wearer of the equipment. Due to its non-reliance on items such as compressed air cylinders, this kind of system is lightweight and compact, making it ideal in certain situations which demand such features.
In conclusion, there are number of different breathing air systems available on the market today to meet a wide range of needs spanning a number of industries. The choice all depends on the hazards present in the environment, the duration of exposition to these environments, practical aspects of apparatus use and whether the breathing system is used for work or simply as an escape option.