United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Information Notice No. 85-60: Defective Negative-pressure, Air-purifying, Full Facepiece Respirators

                                                           SSINS No.: 6835 
                                                           IN 85-60        

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

                                July 17, 1985

Information Notice No. 85-60:   DEFECTIVE NEGATIVE-PRESSURE, 
                                   AIR-PURIFYING, FULL FACEPIECE RESPIRATORS

Addressees: 

All nuclear power reactor facilities holding an operating license (OL) or a 
construction permit (CP), research and test reactors, fuel facilities, and 
certain materials licensees. 

Purpose: 

This notice is provided to inform licensees of a potentially generic problem
with Mine Safety Appliances (MSA) Company's negative-pressure, 
air-purifying, full facepiece respirator, the ULTRA-TWIN mode 1 (NIOSH/MSHA 
approval number TC-21C-155). 

It is expected that addressees will review the information provided for 
applicability to their respiratory programs and consider actions, if 
appropriate, to preclude similar problems at their facilities. Suggestions 
contained in this notice do not constitute NRC requirements; therefore, no 
specific action or written response is required. 

Description of Circumstances: 

On June 3, 1985, the radiation protection manager of the Westinghouse 
Nuclear Fuels Plant in Columbia, South Carolina, notified NRC Region II that 
the licensee's maintenance vendor for respiratory protection devices had 
discovered defects in MSA ultra-twin masks. Pin holes and small slits, 
causing penetration of the respirator's facepiece, were found near the metal
edge of the clamp holding the speaking diaphragm cover. The attached 
Department of Energy (DOE) safety alert provides further technical 
discussion/description of a similar facepiece leakage problem discovered at 
a DOE facility. This DOE alert was developed with cooperation of MSA, and it
provides sound recommendations for problem identification and prevention. 
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) requested 
that MSA investigate the respirator problems identified by Westinghouse for 
possible further generic implications. 

Westinghouse and NIOSH report that these physical defects are very difficult
to find with a routine visual check of the respirator. Typical facepiece 
leakage reported by Westinghouse was in the range of 2 to 4 percent with two
units 



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                                                             IN 85-60     
                                                             July 17, 1985 
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indicating as much as 50 and 90 percent leakage. While routine, pre-use 
simple field tests (e. g., negative pressure test performed in accordance 
with NUREG-0041, Sections 8.5.2.3 and 10.2) may not detect facepiece leakage
in the 2-to-4-percent range, significant leakages in the 50-to-90-percent 
range should be readily detected. With proper implementation of the 
maintenance and testing requirements for respirators [10 CFR 20.103(c)(2)], 
the NRC staff believes defective respirators with significant leakages would
be identified and removed from service. Thus, the staff believes that no 
significant increases in exposures of workers to airborne radioactive 
material should have resulted from the reported facepiece penetration 
problem. Westinghouse reviewed and reevaluated potential personnel exposures
of all MSA respirator users and found no overexposures. 

No specific action or written response is required by this information 
notice. If you have any questions about this matter, please contact the 
Regional Administrator of the appropriate regional office or this office. 


                                   Edward L. Jordan Director 
                                   Division of Emergency Preparedness 
                                     and Engineering Response 
                                   Office of Inspection and Enforcement 

Technical Contact:  J. W. Wigginton, IE
                    (301) 492-4967

                    R. L. Pedersen, IE
                    (301) 492-9425

Attachments:
1.   DOE Safety Alert, DOE/PE-0051/1,
       Issue No. 10, September, 1984
2.   List of Recently Issued IE Information Notices
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, November 12, 2013