|Claudiu Lungu and a team from UAB's Department of Environmental Health Sciences have devised a high-tech, low-cost method for designing and fabricating new respirator prototypes to improve workplace safety.|
If you work on an auto painting crew, stir vats of artificial butter at a popcorn factory or handle asbestos at a shipyard, you are one of the 5 million American workers legally required to wear respiratory protective equipment on the job.
But legal requirements and actual practice don't always match up. And even when workers wear their respirators, they may not be doing much good.
Studies show that hundreds of thousands of workers—from 15 to 20 percent, according to recent research—may be wearing ill-fitting respirators, not designed for a workforce that has rapidly changed over the past decades.
But a UAB research team has devised a high-tech, low-cost method for designing and fabricating new respirator prototypes to better match the variety of facial shapes in today's workplace. In addition to protecting industrial workers, the technology could aid members of the military as well. The findings are published online in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.