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Challenging assumptions: Are respirators effective against bushfire smoke?

Conference Paper


Abstract


  • The catastrophic 2019/20 summer bushfire season highlighted the lack of an appropriate

    respiratory protection program for RFS firefighters. Images of firefighters ill-equipped to protect

    their respiratory health bombarded the media daily. In July, the NSW RFS released a tender

    document for the provision of respiratory protection equipment (RPE), with half face P2 respirators

    nominated for most frontline operations.

    Whilst bushfire emissions contain a cocktail of respirable toxic and carcinogenic substances such

    as PAH���s and nanoparticles; the efficacy of P2 filtration against these substances has not been

    evaluated.

    Previous research conducted by the University of Wollongong 1,2 has demonstrated lower

    than expected performance of RPE commonly used for thermally generated particles. With the

    generous support of the AIOH Foundation and the NSW RFS, this work was extended to assess

    the efficacy of RPE against bushfire emissions. Respirator filtration efficiency was evaluated for

    respirable particulates, PAHs and nanoparticles.

    The findings of this study will inform the NSW RFS and other agencies of the efficacy of respiratory

    protection to control exposure to bushfire emissions and enable better management of the health

    risk for their volunteers. It will also contribute to respirator manufacturers��� knowledge to improve

    the design and filtration required for use against bushfire emissions to protect the health of

    firefighters.

Publication Date


  • 2022

Citation


  • Whitelaw, J., Hines, J., & Apthorpe, L. (2022, March 19). Challenging assumptions: Are respirators effective against bushfire smoke?. In Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists Inc 38th Annual Conference & Exhibition (pp. 139). Victoria, Australia: AIOH.

Web Of Science Accession Number


Start Page


  • 139

End Page


  • 139

Volume


Issue


Place Of Publication


  • Victoria, Australia

Abstract


  • The catastrophic 2019/20 summer bushfire season highlighted the lack of an appropriate

    respiratory protection program for RFS firefighters. Images of firefighters ill-equipped to protect

    their respiratory health bombarded the media daily. In July, the NSW RFS released a tender

    document for the provision of respiratory protection equipment (RPE), with half face P2 respirators

    nominated for most frontline operations.

    Whilst bushfire emissions contain a cocktail of respirable toxic and carcinogenic substances such

    as PAH���s and nanoparticles; the efficacy of P2 filtration against these substances has not been

    evaluated.

    Previous research conducted by the University of Wollongong 1,2 has demonstrated lower

    than expected performance of RPE commonly used for thermally generated particles. With the

    generous support of the AIOH Foundation and the NSW RFS, this work was extended to assess

    the efficacy of RPE against bushfire emissions. Respirator filtration efficiency was evaluated for

    respirable particulates, PAHs and nanoparticles.

    The findings of this study will inform the NSW RFS and other agencies of the efficacy of respiratory

    protection to control exposure to bushfire emissions and enable better management of the health

    risk for their volunteers. It will also contribute to respirator manufacturers��� knowledge to improve

    the design and filtration required for use against bushfire emissions to protect the health of

    firefighters.

Publication Date


  • 2022

Citation


  • Whitelaw, J., Hines, J., & Apthorpe, L. (2022, March 19). Challenging assumptions: Are respirators effective against bushfire smoke?. In Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists Inc 38th Annual Conference & Exhibition (pp. 139). Victoria, Australia: AIOH.

Web Of Science Accession Number


Start Page


  • 139

End Page


  • 139

Volume


Issue


Place Of Publication


  • Victoria, Australia