Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Disposable respirators for travel risk mitigation- Planes, Trains, & Automobiles

Questions have come up regarding flying and Fukushima fallout exposure, I have listed some disposable respirators on the left side of the screen. The masks with exhalation valves breath easier, and are less humid.  I believe the masks listed offer the best compromise to mitigate low level risks from both radioactive particles and gasses. The minimum capabilities I looked for where a N95 particulate filter and a nuisance level organic vapor filter (carbon).

From an aircraft passenger's view point,  the major concern is that jet engines act like giant vacuums sucking  in potential radioactive fallout. Most jet aircraft draw cabin air from the engines; see this previous post for more info. It is important to note that there is a difference from flying in an aircraft and being exposed to cosmic rays, versus flying through radioactive fallout and inhaling radioactive particles and gasses. It is the difference between getting a CAT scan and eating the CAT scan machine; one is temporary the other gets incorporated into your body for long term internal exposure.

Similar concerns maybe raised when driving through a rain storm, especially when other vehicles are aerosolizing  the rain runoff into a mist via their tires. In those instances, some protection may be offered by setting the vehicle's environmental controls to recirculate. Turning the air conditioning on may also offer additional protection by dehumidifying the air.

Update 6/6/11:

I would not wear a carbon filter mask in the rain; wet activated carbon will absorb oxygen.

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