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Advanced first response respiratory protection

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Protecting the well-being of first responders

An EU-funded project was set up to develop new nanoporous adsorbents that offer protection against a wide range of toxic chemicals and biological threats. The overall success of such an undertaking is important for the respiratory protection of first responders as well as the public.

Industrial Technologies

In the event of an incident involving chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) agents, preparatory actions are of paramount importance for limiting consequences and minimising effects. This is particularly important for first responders, who are often on the scene without proper protective equipment and without any warning and/or appropriate training. Members of the 'Advanced first response respiratory protection' (FRESP) project aimed to establish a network of scientists and research institutions geared towards the development of an easy-to-don, broad-spectrum, low-burden respiratory protection device. This would necessarily be tailored to the needs of first responders and based on a nanoporous adsorbent. With the aim of integrating the two main areas of protection required (chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals) without reducing capacity in either, FRESP partners sought to also integrate features not available in current state-of-the-art adsorbents. These offer protection against radioactive gases and biological threats. Initially, efforts were devoted to analysing different preparation routes for the development of nanoporous sorbents with a highly developed porosity. Subsequently, emphasis was placed on optimising these preparation routes. Various tests returned positive results for combined microporosity and mesoporosity as well as the viability of combining impregnated materials for sufficiently high protection capacity and low burden. FRESP members commenced work on design concepts for hood systems that meet the primary goal of 'one size fits all', as well as resolving various other constraints. Other design issues were evaluated and two concepts were considered: the use of a semi-permeable hood with integrated visor and a non-permeable, transparent plastic, hood. The preferred route will ultimately be chosen on the prototype performance. Work carried out by the FRESP project towards development of respiratory protective equipment for first responders still has to meet a number of requirements. However, it has the potential to significantly impact the operational procedures of first responders for overall benefits to themselves as well as the victims of CBRN incidents.

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