Breathe in….and breathe out. Breathing. It’s one of the most basic human functions which most people take for granted. However, for people with respiratory diseases such as COPD, asthma and lung cancer, the ability to breathe easily is a luxury they might not have anymore. Something which should be subconscious, becomes a conscious effort and everyday tasks can become impossible.
The current Coronavirus pandemic has brought lung health into sharp focus – it is widely recognised that older people, people with weakened immune systems and those living with long-term conditions including lung disease are most at risk of developing serious breathing difficulties and other potentially fatal complications.
There are a number of measures individuals can take to try and keep their lungs healthy. These include:
- Stopping smoking
- Exercising to increase lung capacity
- Improving indoor air quality by using filters and minimising dust and mould in the atmosphere
There are also measures employers can take to ensure their employees are breathing air which is clean and safe. For companies that manufacture products, this means ensuring their production facilities are fitted with effective extraction to remove airborne pollutants including oil mist, dust, fume, smoke and fibres from the air.
Most adults breathe in and out 12-20 times per minute when resting. This equates to between 17,280 and 28,800 breaths per day. The average of these figures is 23,040 which equals 960 breaths per hour, so spending eight hours (the length of an average working day) in a polluted environment means workers could potentially be inhaling 7,680 breaths of contaminated air every working day.
Inhaling particulate matter can result in a range of respiratory diseases including asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis (also known as extrinsic allergic alveolitis), COPD and various types of cancer. All of these diseases are serious and can be fatal but breathing in contaminated air at work is completely avoidable through the use of effective control measures. This fact has prompted the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to focus on trying to reduce occupational lung disease by advocating the use of a range of control measures, including LEV (local exhaust ventilation) systems.
Monitoring and Maintenance
Ensuring control measures are operating as intended is also vital to protecting lung health. Extraction may work initially, but regular checks should be made to make sure the required airflow is maintained. ‘Blinded filters’ or blockages in the ducting may affect the system’s performance meaning although employers believe the air in their facility is clean, this might not be the case.
Monitoring systems including pressure gauges and Filtermist’s F Monitor are easy to use, visual devices which immediately alert machine operators to potential issues, whilst regular servicing will ensure the required performance is maintained.
Within the UK, regular LEV Testing by a competent person is also a legal requirement under COSHH regulations. All systems must be tested at least once every 14 months depending on the nature of the application.
Supporting employee's lung health
Filtermist has been supporting employee’s lung health for more than 50 years by manufacturing and supplying a wide range of products and services designed to make sure the air in working environments is clean and safe to breathe. The company has been writing about the important role employers can play in protecting the health of their workforce for a long time, publishing articles including:
British Lung Foundation
The British Lung Foundation (BLF) offers wide-ranging support to people affected by lung disease and has lots of information on its website regarding Coronavirus, specifically aimed at people living with lung conditions.
Filtermist’s Senior Management Team is taking on the Three Peaks Challenge in May to raise much needed funds for the BLF. More details can be found here: https://bit.ly/2xYLCmp, or to make a donation please visit the dedicated JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/filtermistteamsmt.