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HAZMAT Air Supply Consumption

The duration of the air supply must be considered before planning any HAZMAT Level 3 SCBA-assisted work activity. The anticipated operating time of an SCBA is clearly indicated on the breathing apparatus. This designated operating time is based on a moderate work rate, e.g., some lifting, carrying, and/or heavy equipment operation.

In actual operation, however, several factors can reduce the rated operating time when planning an SCBA-assisted work mission, the following variables should be considered and work actions and operating time adjusted accordingly:

• Work rate. The actual in-use duration of SCBAs may be reduced by one-third to one-half during strenuous work, e.g., drum handling, major lifting, or any task requiring repetitive speed of motion.
• Fitness. Well-conditioned individuals generally utilize oxygen more efficiently and can extract more oxygen from a given volume of air (particularly when performing strenuous tasks) than unfit individuals, thereby slightly increasing the SCBA operating time [8].
• Body size. Larger individuals generally consume air at a higher rate than smaller individuals [8], thereby decreasing the SCBA operating time.
• Breathing patterns. Quick, shallow or irregular breaths use air more rapidly than deep, regularly spaced breaths. Heat-induced anxiety and lack of acclimatization (see Heat Stress and Other Physiological Factors in this chapter) may induce hyperventilation, resulting in decreased SCBA operating time.

Suit/Ensemble Permeation and Penetration

The possibility of chemical permeation or penetration of CPC ensembles during the work mission is always a matter of concern and may limit mission duration. Possible causes of ensemble penetration are:
• Suit valve leakage, particularly under excessively hot or cold temperatures.
• Suit fastener leakage if the suit is not properly maintained or if the fasteners become brittle at cold temperatures.
• Exhalation valve leakage at excessively hot or cold temperatures.

Also, when considering mission duration, it should be remembered that no single clothing material is an effective barrier to all chemicals or all combinations of chemicals, and no material is an effective barrier to prolonged chemical exposure.

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