Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Con Edison Steam Explosion exposes Respirator Errors




Even after 9/11, we still have not learned the proper use for respirators. Police officers at the site are wearing the appropriate respirator but are they wearing it incorrectly? From the photo above what is wrong with the picture? The workers have their masks on but I bet they didn't perform a user seal check to make sure it was on correctly and working properly. As you can see from the photo the bottom straps have not been attached. The straps not being connected allows the bottom of the respirator to remain open. Since air will take the path of least resistance, it means everytime these officers breathe, the contaminants that they are to be protected from will enter the respirator from the bottom without filtering. The fact that several officers were seen wearing their respirators in this manner indicates that officers need further training on properly wearing a respirator.
The second photo shows people traveling through the area of the steam explosion. It was also noted in the Newday article "Little Risk From Asbestos" (Friday, July 20, 2007) that the Red Cross reported distributing 1,200 dust masks to city workers and commuters since Wednesday night. The problem here is that dust masks do not filter for asbestos. Another problem is that dust masks unless properly fit tested and adjusted to the face, will not ensure all the air passes through the mask instead of going around the mask. The best these masks are doing is providing the individual with a false sense of security that if there is any exposure that they are protected.
My final concern is the manner of the clean-up. I already saw several photos/videos of workers using dry sweeping clean-up the debris. This work procedure unless used together with amended water (dust suppression agent) will cause any asbestos dust in the debris to become airborne, again. Exposing workers and the public to asbestos, hence it is important to continue to monitor the clean-up of the explosion area. This will ensure that work procedures that cause the asbestos dust to become airborne are prevented.

1 comment:

Shawn White said...

I agree 100 percent. I recall viewing the videos of the explosion, which showed an enormous cloud of asbestos- laden dust and debris scattered all over the surrounding area. I was thinking that reminded me of the grameracy incident. What I find increasing dis hearting is that the public and especially the police officers posted to that location are probably inadequately trained and it shows. Shame Con ed and the public health authorities for once again, the lack of leadership.