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Supplied Air System

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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Until recently, supplied air systems had been written off by many industry professionals, largely due to their lack of comfort. Many of those systems included air filtration systems that were too cumbersome or heavy for extended use, facemasks that grew hot or fogged easily, and even air hoses that were constantly interfering with vision or work. Modern supplied air systems, however, are designed to solve many of these problems, fit comfortably, and provide the protection that is both necessary and lawful (meeting or exceeding OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard 29 CFR 1910.134).

Typical Components of Supplied Air Systems

Currently available supplied air systems all variations on the same basic design. That design features four main parts: a respirator hood, a breathing tube, a flow control device, and an air supply hose. The hood covers the wearers face or head, insulating the wearer from toxic fumes, and sometimes offering protection from heat as well (some modern units are air conditioned). The breathing tub connects the hood to the air input, which is regulated by a flow control device.

What is connected to the flow control device differs from model to model. Some models use an air supply hose to connect to a one or two person to an ambient air pump. These pumps, when placed outside of the work area (away from contaminated air) are electrically driven compressors, and rarely require filters other than a small intake filter. They are generally cheaper than in-line air filtration units that connect to large shop air compressors.

In-line air filtration units link air compressors to personal air systems. They are required by law to feature carbon monoxide monitors, and may condition the air, cooling or heating it. Some personal supplied air respirators include belt-mounted in-line filters, and also include mounts for compressed air tools such as spray guns, sanders, or drivers.


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