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Supplied Air

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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In environments where the ambient air is poses danger or health risk to workers or personnel, a system of supplied air is important for both legal and productivity reasons. Supplied air systems channel clean or filtered air to respirators or hoods, providing breathable air in otherwise hazardous environments. Air is usually channeled to personal equipment through one of two means: in-line air filters, or ambient air pumps.

In-line air filtration units move air from shop compressors through a series of filters in order to render it breathable. Some in-line filters are quite large, and can supply air to multiple workers, while others are personal, belt-mounted systems. Some of the belt-mounted systems can even maintain air pressure from compressors for air-powered tools by including a second outlet dedicated to respirator use.

Ambient air pumps are available in a few different sizes to provide air for up to four people. They channel air from uncontaminated environments to respirators, and are often electrically driven, making them great for applications that require a high degree of portability. They also are usually oil-less, and use only one filter (if any at all), making them a low-cost and low-maintenance addition to supplied air systems.

OSHA Approval for Supplied Air Systems

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, under the Respiratory Protection Standard 29 CFR 1910.134, does require that only certified supplied air systems be used in the workplace. In order to achieve certification, systems must pass tests that are administered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The systems must also remain unmodified throughout the duration of their use, and may not be mixed with components of different systems or respiratory devices.


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