Canadian Biosafety Handbook: Information On Masks And Respiratory Protection (May 2016)

Ever wonder what the Federal guidelines say on employees having to wear masks or respirators? Take a look at the Canadian Biosafety Handbook, Second Edition, from May 2016. Section 9.1.6 has some pretty interesting information on that subject.

Incidently, thank you to this man, David Dickson, who mentioned the CBH in his speech, even in passing. See 23:10 for him addressing the issue. The original was posted by Angry Albertan. Yes, this brief statement warranted an investigation, and his reference turned out to be accurate.

Note: this is not to make any guarantee that the information in this handbook. Nonetheless, there is some interesting information available here.

2.2 Viruses
Viruses are the smallest of replicating organisms. Their small size (20-300 nm) allows them to pass through filters that typically capture the smallest bacteria. Viruses have no metabolism of their own and redirect existing host machinery and metabolic functions to replicate. Structurally, the simplest viruses consist of nucleic acids enclosed in a protein capsid (nucleocapsid). Enveloped viruses have a more complex structure in which the nucleocapsid is enclosed inside a lipid bilayer membrane; this membrane facilitates the virus’s interaction with the host cell.

Let’s look at this for a moment. Setting aside the issue that epidemiology is a pseudo-science at best, the Canadian Government claims viruses are between 20-300 nm, or nanometers. However, the mask guidelines listed below fall far, far below that standard.

If viruses actually were airborne, then these masks would provide no protection whatsoever. Then again, does this “virus” even exist?

9.1.6 Masks and Respiratory Protection
Safe operational practices and the use of primary containment devices can limit the creation of, and exposure to, infectious aerosols or aerosolized toxins. Surgical masks and many types of dust masks offer little protection from airborne pathogens, infectious aerosols, or aerosolized toxin, but will protect mucous membranes of the nose and mouth from spills and splashes. Masks are not intended to be used more than once. Respirators are used when there is a risk of exposure to aerosolized toxins or infectious aerosols that can be transmitted through the inhalation route. Respirators are divided into two classes: air purifying respirators and atmosphere-supplying respirators. The type of respirator selected will depend on the hazard associated with the particular activity being carried out. Personnel education on airborne hazards and training on respirator selection, fit, inspection, and maintenance are some examples of elements of a workplace respiratory protection program, which is required for any workplace where respirators are used. Where applicable, respiratory protection should conform to standard CSA Z94.4, Selection, Use and Care of Respirators. Respirator Fit
All respirators need to fit properly in order to function as intended. Some types of respirators require a seal between the apparatus and the wearer’s face in order to provide adequate protection. Using the wrong respirator or misusing one can be as dangerous as not wearing one at all. The respirator should be individually selected and fitted to the operator’s face, and fit tested for its seal. Facial hair, imperfections of the skin, cosmetics, and changes in a person’s weight can affect respirator fit. Most jurisdictions within Canada currently require qualitative or quantitative fit-testing to be conducted to demonstrate proper fit for the selected respirator(s) before an individual carries out any activities that require respiratory protection. In addition, standard CSA Z94.4, Selection, Use, and Care of Respirators, requires that an employer take reasonable precautions to verify that an individual is medically cleared to wear a respirator. Proper use and care of respiratory protection equipment is a core component of the training program in workplaces where respirators are used. Air Purifying Respirators
Air purifying respirators help reduce the concentration of microorganisms and particulates in the air inhaled by the user to an acceptable exposure level by passing the air through a particulate filter or chemical cartridge. Half-mask air purifying respirators cover the nose and mouth but not the eyes, while full-face air purifying respirators cover the entire face. Disposable half-mask air purifying respirators, including the N95 and N100 type respirators, are designed for single use. Non-powered half-mask and full-face respirators can also use disposable filter cartridges to provide a similar level of protection. Non-powered respirators work through the creation of negative-pressure inside the respirator during inhalation. There are nine classifications of particulate filters used with non-powered respirators approved by the United States National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). These are the N-Series (N95, N99, N100; not resistant to oil), R-Series (R95, R99, R100; oil-resistant), and P-Series (P95, P99, P100; oil-proof). The associated numbers identify the efficiency in removing contaminants. Respirators rated at N95 or higher are adequate to protect personnel carrying out most activities with microorganisms. Powered Air Purifying Respirators
Powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs) create a positive-pressure around the wearer’s head. PAPRs are designed to be decontaminated and reused, and the disposable filter cartridges are replaced on a regular basis, as determined by an LRA. Particulate filters for PAPR units are all high efficiency (HE), which are certified to be 99.97% efficient at filtering the most penetrating particle size (0.3 µm). Due to the effects of impaction, diffusion, and interception, high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are even more efficient for particles that are either smaller or larger than 0.3 µm. Most PAPR filters are suitable for use against oil-based aerosols; however, this is not always the case and users should check the manufacturer instructions before use in oil environments. Atmosphere-Supplying Respirators
Atmosphere-supplying respirators deliver clean, breathable air from a source such as a compressed air cylinder or tank. These are generally supplied-air respirators, but could be a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). Supplied-air respirators deliver air through a small hose connected to an air compressor or a cylinder of compressed air, whereas SCBAs supply breathable air from a portable cylinder worn on the back.

Now, remember that viruses are (allegedly) 20-300 nanometers, according to Section 2.2. That is quite the range, and we are taking what they say at face value.

Section 9.1.6 starts by stating: “Surgical masks and many types of dust masks offer little protection from airborne pathogens, infectious aerosols, or aerosolized toxin, but will protect mucous membranes of the nose and mouth from spills and splashes”. So your bandana or teflon coated dental mask will achieve nothing.

Turning to, Powered air purifying respirators (or PAPRs) claim to be 99.97% effective at filtering particles of 0.3 µm, or 0.3 micrometers. However, do a little conversion: 0.3 µm = 300 nm. Considering that viruses are (supposedly) between 20-300 nm, even pressurized protection will only be effective at the upper range of this.

Funny how the experts never seem to address this.

(3) Canada Biosafety Handbook May 2016

3 Replies to “Canadian Biosafety Handbook: Information On Masks And Respiratory Protection (May 2016)”

  1. Absolutely, I have been in occupational hygiene/ health and safety for 25 years. I am intimately familiar with Z94.4 as this is the standard we had to meet in oil/gas applications. Understanding the threat and choosing the appropriate protection was only half the battle. Other considerations included proper training, fit testing, storage and maintenance. From the beginning I saw the ludicrous claims coming from officials that any old mask will do. I have not been able to continue work in this field because I will not push a completely false narrative. Anyone with half a brain should be able to see past this obvious charade.

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