v°xEPA
United States
Environmental Protection Agency
Design for the Environment, Auto Refinishing Shop Project
            EPA 744-F-00-007
November 1999, Revised June 2000
SUPPLIED-AIR RESPIRA TORS IN A UTO SHOPS: Get the Best
Protection

Should painters wear supplied-air respirators
when spraying?

       Yes!  It is particularly important to a painter's
health to wear supplied-air respirators when spraying
paints containing highly toxic chemicals such as
isocyanates.  In fact, paint manufacturers recommend
that painters  wear supplied-air respirators to ensure
adequate protection from isocyanate-containing paints.
Chemical-protective gloves, clothing, and eye protection
are also essential safety equipment for painters.

       Note, this guide provides insights into some of
the respiratory protection equipment presently available
that may be used by auto refinishers.  It is not intended
to be used as a respirator selection guide.
                  WARNING:
   Isocyanates—a major ingredient in clear coats
     and many primers—present serious health
   risks, including asthma, allergic lung and skin
   reactions, and chronic lung disease.  They have
      even caused painter deaths from asthma
                   reactions.
                                                   Photo courtesy of SAT A.
Do air-purifying respirators provide painters adequate protection?

Often no. Although air-purifying respirators or cartridge respirators provide a certain level of protection,
supplied-air respirators typically offer greater protection against inhaling toxic chemicals. Further, if cartridges
are not changed regularly or not maintained properly, an air-purifying respirator may provide little, if any,
protection. Until paints are formulated without toxic chemicals, supplied-air respirators usually offer the best
form of respiratory protection.

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Are supplied-air respirators more expensive than air-purifying respirators?

       Not necessarily. Some auto refmishing shops have found that the overall cost of a supplied-air
respirator system—including initial purchase, installation, and maintenance—is comparable to, or less
                                                     than, the overall cost of air-purifying
                                                     respirators, with the continuing expense for
                                                     organic vapor replacement cartridges.
                                                     Do supplied-air respirators present
                                                     challenges to auto refinishing shop
                                                     workers?

                                                            Perhaps, but the health benefits of
                                                     supplied-air systems make the challenges, such
                                                     as convenience and up-front cost, worth
                                                     overcoming. Painters have found supplied-air
                                                     systems that are comfortable, do not hamper
                                                     visibility, and are easy to put on and take off.
                                                     Some of the newer models quickly convert to
                                                     air-purifying respirators for non-spraying
                                                     activities; others are even air-conditioned!
                                                     More and more painters are opting for the
                                                     greater protection of supplied-air
                                                     respirators—the key is finding the system
                                                     that's right for you.
Picture courtesy ofH.D. Bullard Company
How can I get more information on supplied-air respirators?

       (1)  Talk to painters who use supplied-air systems for first-hand accounts.

       (2)  Call your paint supplier, your equipment supplier, or a respirator manufacturer to learn about
           the variety of available respirators. Some of these companies might even offer free
           demonstrations of their products at your shop.

       (3)  Consult with Mary Cushmac (202-260-4443, cushmac.mary@epa.gov) or David DiFiore
           (202-260-3374,  difiore.david@,epa.gov) of the DfE Project Team.
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            op Projfict
                        The mention or illustration of any product or company does not constitute an endorsement by
                        the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
                           THEDESIGNFOR THE ENVIRONMENT AUTO REFINISHING SHOP PROJECT'S GOAL is TO WORK WITH AUTO
                           REFINISHERS TO IDENTIFY AND ADOPT SAFER, CLEANER, MORE EFFICIENT PRACTICES AND TECHNOLOGIES.
www.epa.gov/dfe/autobody/autobody.html

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