A common question we get asked is ‘what is a powered air respirator and why is it important?’
A Powered Air Purifying Respirator (or PAPR) is a portable air filtration system that provides effective protection against potentially hazardous particulates, fumes and gases present when welding, cutting or grinding. These harmful contaminants – collectively known as ‘welding fume’ – can pose significant health risks when inhaled. Welding fume can contain a mixture of airborne gases that may include oxides of nitrogen (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), ozone(O3) and shield gases eg argon, helium. Effective respiratory protection, such as using a powered air system helps to protect against potential short and long term health effects.
Recent changes in the classification of welding fume by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has seen welding fume changed from Group 2B (possibly carcinogenic to humans) to Group 1 (carcinogenic to humans). This has shone the light once again on the importance of welding safety, as the effects of harmful welding fume have now been proven to have direct links to cancer.
In protecting against welding fumes, the 3M™ Speedglas™ Welding Helmet Series 9100XXi with 3M™ Adflo™ Powered Air Respirator filters out particulates and gases and provides a constant flow of clean, filtered air through to the breathing zone. The Adflo™ PAPR unit is a light, portable belt-mounted respirator that connects to the Speedglas™ 9100 respiratory welding helmets. Available with a range of stackable particulate and gas filters, the Adflo system provides a Required Minimum Protection Factor (RMPF) of 50 – meaning the air that you breathe in through the system is 50 times cleaner than the surrounding air.
The recent release of the Welding Fume White Paper – which details the changes in welding fume classification – has seen a massive push from Australian welders and employers toward powered air. The White Paper has been read by over 6,000 welders and has been shared over 400 times on Facebook – helping to highlight the importance of welding equipment in keeping Aussie welders safe!