Polymer Engineering Faculty Research


A Method for the Evaluation of Respirators in Nanorich Environment

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2012


Nanostructures have been a topic of great scientific interest for the past several decades for the possibility of their use in enhanced composites. However, the precautions for the safe use of these low bulk density materials are commonly overlooked. The airborne release of these materials, such as carbon nanotubes (CNTs), carbon nanofibers (CNFs) and nanoclays, into the air during compounding is inevitable. In conventional polymer processing these fillers pose a potential threat until they are encapsulated in a polymer matrix. This occurs while transporting or feeding nanostructures into the process. Typically, the operator uses a respirator to avoid inhaling nanostructures into the body that escape engineering controls and it is therefore important to investigate how efficient these respirators are at capturing these airborne materials. To carry out this study, a special device was built to simulate the dynamic breathing process of air inhalation to determine the permeation of nanostructures through various respirators of different safety ratings. This will provide new information concerning the environmental impact of nanostructures in the prevention of exposure to human beings of airborne nanostructures.



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