At a time when N95s are difficult to obtain, and facial hair is tough to part with, a safe and permanent solution for medical practitioners exists. The Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR), a wearable motor-driven respirator, filters workplace air and delivers disinfected air to the wearer through its hood. Think: A vacuum cleaner running in reverse.
A helmet-esque Gentex PAPR, an example of this all-in-one solution, offers full protection, comfort, and simplicity. Unlike a mask, a PAPR eliminates gaps and decreases the risk of exposure for the wearer. Using a PAPR also means no need for eye protection, ear protection, a mask, or a face shield. A motor draws air through the PAPR filter and allows the wearer to breathe naturally while feeling a consistent cooling airflow to the head, an advantage in hot and humid environments. The lightweight headgear contains a clear window to view work. Some PAPRs, like the Gentex brand, do not require a fit test. This allows the PAPR to achieve the same seal requirement as an N95 mask, and present a safe, ideal alternative.
A PAPR benefits healthcare workers, and it supports the environment as well. According to UN News, 75 percent of all single-use masks will end up in the ocean, endangering wildlife. A reusable PAPR presents a reliable choice for the environmentally conscious.
Today COVID-19 is on the minds of all, but a PAPR offers permanent, long-lasting solutions beyond the pandemic. According to a 2014 study by the Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists, use of a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in a PAPR mask filters 99.97 percent of particles. From this data, the PAPR provides greater protection against harmful particles than an N95 mask (which filters 95 percent of particles) when fitted properly.
As the most effective form of protection and filtration on the market, the PAPR creates a compelling choice for dentists seeking to stay safe during the pandemic and in the days that follow.