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Domestic Preparedness: Sarin Vapor Challenge and Corn Oil Protection Factor (PF) Testing of Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) Systems and Cartridges

NCJ Number
Lee E. Campbell; Alex G. Pappas
Date Published
March 1999
18 pages
This paper examines the protection potential of the Commercial Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) Systems and Cartridges against the organophosphorus nerve agent, Sarin (GB). It also reports on Protection Factor (PF) testing of the PAPR systems being challenged by a corn aerosol.
Under the Domestic Preparedness (DP) Expert Assistance Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Evaluation Program, the Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center (ECBC) was tasked with testing of Commercial Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) Systems and Cartridges. The tests performed were: (1) chemical agent breakthrough testing of PAPR cartridges (specifically the organophosphorus nerve agent GB, known as Sarin), (2) combined Sarin-challenge testing of cartridges and facepiece facial seals using a manikin headform equipped with simulated-breathing pumps, and (3) corn oil Protection Factor (PF) testing of PAPR Systems using human subjects. The PF testing examined the face seal only, and the combined testing with Sarin examined the cartridge absorption efficiency only, and the combined test examined both under high concentration challenge conditions. The chemical agent testing was done by Chemical Evaluation Laboratory, Surety Team, Engineering Directorate. The PF testing was done by the Mask Fit Test Facility, Non-Surety Team, Engineering Directorate. The test results indicated that the cartridge of each manufacturer tested against Sarin, if used with the associated PAPRs according to the manufacturers’ instructions, would protect against the maximum use concentration (MUC) of Sarin for at least one hour and probably more than 6 hours. It must be noted that the seal between the facepiece and the wearer’s face must be tight, and that wearers must be trained in achieving a high protection factor when donning the respirator. Overall, the six Powered Air Purifying Respirator Systems using the designated cartridges as described in this report will protect personnel against Sarin concentrations of 300 mg/m³ for at least one hour and probably more than 6 hours. Protection Factor results indicated that the six PAPRs met U.S. Army requirements for positive-pressure respirators. Tables, references, glossary