Respiratory Protection Against Some Pathogens and Toxins
Pathogens are disease-producing microorganisms. Bacteria, mycoplasma, rickettsia, fungi and viruses are among the naturally occurring pathogens. Toxins are poisons produced through the metabolic activities of living organisms. They are organic compounds such as proteins, polypeptides and alkaloids that come from a variety of biological sources. Pathogens and toxins are normal constituents of the environment. However, industrial processes for fermentation and synthesis are capable of producing large quantities of pathogens and toxins for environmental release by military or terrorist actions. The human body is vulnerable to injury from harmful exposures to environmental pathogens and toxins. The atmosphere is by far the largest component of the environment, and of the three portals for intoxication of the human body, the lungs are the largest surface (100 m2) exposed to the environment. Protecting the lungs from exposures to hazardous materials in the environment has been accomplished with a variety of air filtration devices. In this chapter, some of the environmental pathogens and toxins are identified, some of the models for air filtration are briefly discussed, some of the air filtration devices are compared and some applications of the air filtration devices are described.