Understanding Respiratory Hazards
Many tasks, both at work and at home, can cause respiratory hazards. The length of time you're exposed, how often you're exposed, and the concentration of the hazard all add to your risk of having health problems.
Dust, fumes, mist, smoke, and fog
These hazards occur in many ways. Dust can form when substances are broken down into smaller pieces. Fumes and smoke may be released into the air with temperature changes. Mist and fog may occur when substances are sprayed. Some of the tasks that may expose you to these hazards are:
Gases and vapors
Gases and vapors may have no smell, taste, or color. Gases can be released with temperature changes or after a container is opened. Vapors may be released as a substance evaporates. Certain gas and vapor exposure, such as carbon monoxide, can quickly cause injury or even death. This is called an IDLH (Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health) situation. Some of the tasks that may expose you to these hazards are:
Lack of oxygen
When oxygen levels drop below 19.5%, your life is at risk. Confined areas, places with certain gases, or places where there are fires can cause an IDLH situation. Some of the tasks that may lead to a life-threatening lack of oxygen are: