United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Bulletin 78-07: Protection Afforded by Air-Line Respirators and Supplied-Air Hoods

                              UNITED STATES 
                       NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION 
                    OFFICE OF INSPECTION AND ENFORCEMENT 
                          WASHINGTON, D. C. 20555 
                                     
                               June 12, 1978  

                                                      IE Bulletin No. 78-07 

PROTECTION AFFORDED BY AIR-LINE RESPIRATORS AND SUPPLIED-AIR HOODS 

Description of Circumstances: 

When the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) established its current 
regulations and guidance on acceptable programs for respiratory protection 
(10 CFR Part 20, 20.103(c) and Regulatory Guide 8.15), it announced its 
intention to revise the guidance as better information could be obtained and
made available. The Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory (LASL) has been 
developing pertinent information under NRC contract and has submitted a 
Progress Report on protection factors for air-line supplied-air respirators,
LA-7098-PR, and an Informal Report on supplied-air hoods, LA-NUREG-6612-MS. 

A.   Air-line supplied-air respirators 

The report on air-line respirators indicates that the protection provided 
(protection factor) by certain full facepiece and half-mask facepiece, 
demand-mode-operated, air-line, supplied-air respirators is significantly 
less than was previously estimated from the limited information that was 
available when the protection factors in the current NRC guidance were 
published (Regulatory Guide 8.15, Table 1). Specifically, the current 
guidance lists protection factors of 10 for half-mask facepieces and 50 for 
full facepieces that are used with air-line equipment that is operated in 
the demand mode. The information in the LASL report indicates that much of 
the equipment of this type, even though NIOSH-MESA* tested and certified, 
does not achieve a protection factor greater than 5. The report recommends 
that such equipment no longer be certified by NIOSH nor approved by NRC for 
use. 

B.   Supplied-air hoods 

The report on supplied-air hoods emphasizes the importance of maintaining a 
minimum air flow of 6 cubic feet per minute (approximately 170 lpm), and 
recommends a protection factor of 1,000 at this air flow if calibrated 



* National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-Mining Enforcement 
  and Safety Administration, responsible for respirator certification. 
  MESA is now designated MSHA, Mining Safety and Health Administration. 



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IE Bulletin No. 78-07                                       June 12, 1978 

air-line pressure gauges or flow measuring equipment are used. A protection 
factor of 2,000, as given in the current NRC guidance, is recommended for 
supplied-air hoods only when air flows are maintained at the manufacturer's 
recommended maximum rate. 

The NRC will further evaluate the information in these reports and other 
pertinent information and will revise its guidance as appropriate, e.g., by 
reducing the protection factors permitted, or by eliminating the approvals 
for or specifying particular conditions for the use of such equipment. 

It is recommended that the following actions be considered by all licensees 
who have respiratory protection programs: 

1.   A protection factor of no more than 5 should be utilized for half-mask 
     and full facepieces that are used with approved air-line equipment 
     operated in the demand mode. 

2.   A protection factor of no more than 1,000 should be utilized for 
     approved supplied-air hoods when the air flow is maintained at 6 cubic 
     feet per minute and calibrated air-line pressure gauges or flow 
     measuring equipment is used. 

3.   A protection factor of 2,000 should be utilized for approved 
     supplied-air hoods only when the air flow is maintained at the 
     manufacturer's recommended maximum rate, this rate is greater than 6 
     cfm, and calibrated air-line pressure gauges or flow measuring 
     equipment is used. 

Actions To Be Taken By Licensees: 

For all power reactor facilities with an operating license, all research 
reactors with an operating license, all fuel cycle facilities with an 
operating license and all material licensees receiving this Bulletin: 

1.   If your respiratory protection program includes the use of air-line 
     supplied-air respirators operated in the demand mode (not respirators 
     operated in continuous-flow or pressure-demand modes) or supplied-air 
     hoods, describe the actions you plan to take to assure proper 
     protection of personnel in consideration of the information provided by 
     this Bulletin. 




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IE Bulletin No. 78-07                                        June 12, 1978 

2.   If your respiratory protection program includes the use of air-line 
     supplied-air respirators operated in the demand mode (not respirators 
     operated in continuous-flow or pressure-demand modes), determine the 
     manufacturer, model and number of half-mask and full facepiece 
     equipment used in this mode. 

3.   Report in writing within 60 days the information required in items 1 
     and 2, if applicable. Reports are to be submitted to the Director of 
     the appropriate NRC Regional Office listed in Appendix D of 10 CFR Part 
     20 and a copy forwarded to the Director, Division of Fuel Facilities 
     and Materials Safety Inspection, U.S.  NRC, Office of Inspection and 
     Enforcement, Washington, D.C. 20555. 

Approval by GAO, B180225(R0072); clearance expires 7/31/80. Approval was 
given under a blanket clearance specifically for identified generic 
problems. 




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