SCBA respirator masks are an important safety device employed in the workplace today. They are used by anyone from fire departments to hazardous industrial applications. Basically, anywhere a person needs a self-contained source of fresh breathable air. SCBA stands for Self Contained Breathing Apparatus and they are used in environments where the air is not suitable to breath and cannot be filtered such as particulate matter like paint spray. The SCBA masks provides the wearer a self contained environment with fresh air delivered to the respirator mask from an air tank. However, one overlooked maintenance item is SCBA mask cleaning. This safety gear is often worn by different people and can become quire dirty and unsanitary. Bacteria, bodily fluids, soot and toxic substances all build up and contaminate your respirator equipment. Cleaning is an extremely important task that must be completed in order to maintain safe equipment.
Cleaning your SCBA mask and gear is a relatively simple process and can prolong the life of your respirator mask. These are generally used in dirty environments that filled with dirt and other contaminants. Your first step is to clean the dirt and grime that has accumulated on the mask, hoses and tank. First remove the filters, cartridges or tanks. Now take apart the respirator mask by removing diaphragms and air hoses. (Remember to inspect and replace any broken or defective parts.) Wash all the parts in warm water with a mild soap or detergent and scrub away any dirt or contaminants that may have collected on the respirator gear. Then rinse with running water.
The next step is to clean the SCBA gear with a disinfecting agent. There are different methods for this. The first and probably easiest is to just use a bleach solution. Just mix 1 milliliter of bleach to 1 liter of water. Iodine also is effective using approximately the same proportions. There are also commercially available cleaners available for sale as well. (It is recommended that you check to see if the manufacturer approves of their use on your particular SCBA mask.) Once the solution is mixed correctly, the equipment needs to be placed in it. Immersion is the best way to sure that all of the SCBA gear is disinfected. Simply submerge the equipment for at least 2 minutes in the disinfecting agent you are using and then rinse thoroughly in running water. Rinsing is very important after this process because the disinfecting agent can cause skin irritation if it is not completely removed from the SCBA mask and equipment. After being thoroughly rinsed, dry all the components and reassemble. Now check and make sure all components are functioning properly and safely.
Ultrasonic cleaning is another method commonly used for cleaning disinfecting SCBA respirator masks and equipment. Ultrasonic cleaning has been around for decades and is used in applications ranging from biomedical to jewelry cleaning. Ultrasonic energy is applied to a cleaning solution causing cavitation. Small bubbles form and implode during this process. This creates a vigorous scrubbing action that cleans the SCBA gear. This process cleans far more effectively than just hand scrubbing with a bleach or iodine solution.
After using either one of the previous methods for disinfecting, the SCBA mask and gear are ready for the next person to use in a hazardous situation. Your workers can safely wear them and equipment free from pathogens and other toxic contaminants. After all, the whole point of wearing an SCBA respirator mask is deliver clean air to the wearer and by not properly cleaning your respirator masks your workers safety is being compromised.