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ISRP Journal (Abstract) Volume 2, Issue 1 (Jan. 1984): Testing SCBA

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A Founder Member of the International Society for Respiratory Protection, I have always been a great enthusiast for the scientific work published by its members and the advances to safety such work has brought, over the years.

Amongst those advances may be included that singular improvement in Respiratory Protection, found in the advent of Positive Pressure Breathing Apparatus, during the ‘Seventies.

And: in the early ‘Eighties, the coming of bench-mark test standards that was to improve, so much, the safety of Fire-fighters and others who use Self Contained Breathing Apparatus in hazardous atmospheres.

AGA Spiro (Interspiro) was the first company to make positive pressure RPD commercially available and, in my view, its essential design features have yet to be significantly improved by subsequent designs.

The paper downloadable here, is abstracted from the first of the Society’s regular publications and describes the findings of scientists who worked to advance methods of attaining better protection - These included Hans Almquist and Gunnar Dahlbeck; who, for the first time, convincingly demonstarted the means to prevent mask in-leakages; so providing Protection Factors in excess of 100,000 during exercise and similarly, Protection Factors of around 10,000 for wearers with full beards.

Consideration of bearded wearers was a key consideration becasue very, many firefighters across Europe - especially Scandinavia - wear full beards. Thus; obviating the necessity for tight fitting masks and reducing the critical limits of Total Inward Leakage was a vital part of the positive pressure project.

Dahlbeck et alia went further; illustrating that the use of well designed, positive pressure BA would provide physiological advantages, too: for example, by improving the alveolar air distribution during effort and demonstrating the importance of low breathing resistances and minimising residual mask volumes.

Indeed; the work presented in this paper was to lead to several of the test protocol, today specified in International, test standards.
Examples are EN136, EN137, EN250 - in which, essential safety features of Respiratory protective devices are tested.

In 1984 was created an international group of scientists and technicians whose common goal is research for improving lung protection, quantifying risk and disseminating the knowledge to members throughout the world. That is the International Society for Respiratory Protection.


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  1. How positive pressure breathing apparatus should be tested

    Posted by ThozasEmick on 6th Apr 2017

    A clear and simple explanation as to the derivation of test protocols, EN 136 and 137.
    The paper also explains how the necessity for fit-testing is ameliorated by the use of positive pressure CABA, which has very low Work of Breathing.

  2. Putting Fit-testing in to perspective

    Posted by TyrozeSum on 3rd Apr 2017

    An excellent piece of work, demonstrating how HG53 was a good guide that has made poor legislation

  3. A cohesive description of positive pressure protection

    Posted by Jamizeduh on 16th Mar 2017

    An easy to read and convincing argument, proving the reduction of face-fit importance, in providing sound respiratory protection.

    Almquist does not here expound the benefits of positive end exhalation pressure in respirators but subsequent work revealed an increase in alveolar exchange efficiency, resulting from the combination of low work of breathing and positive pressure in AGA's design - both in the fire-fighting mask and the diving version.

  4. Genius is 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration

    Posted by Billy Diver on 25th Aug 2011

    Laid out clearly, understandable to lay-men and readably; Almquist and Botos condense the work of twenty years research in pursuit of their firm's logo: Safe Breathing in All Environments.
    Just as Jacques Cousteau, the marine ecologist, was backed by a giant gas engineering group (L'Air Liquide)so was Almquist's work backed by the Swedish group AGA.
    O.K. The results are not so cinematic but they were to prove infinitely more important to the safety of divers, around the world....
    ...this paper explains many of the secrets shared to improve our world.

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