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Personal Protective Equipment (cont.)

Levels of Personal Protective Equipment

Civilian Personal Protective Equipment

The US Environmental Protection Agency has graded personal protective equipment into 4 levels based on the degree of protection provided. Each level consists of a combination of the protective respiratory equipment and clothing, which protects against varying degrees of inhalational, eye, or skin exposure.

  • Level A consists of a self-contained breathing apparatus and a totally encapsulating chemical-protective (TECP) suit. Level A personal protective equipment provides the highest level of respiratory, eye, mucous membrane, and skin protection. See a rear view.
  • Level B consists of a positive-pressure respirator (self-contained breathing apparatus or supplied-air respirator) and nonencapsulated chemical-resistant garments, gloves, and boots, which guard against chemical splash exposures. Level B PPE provides the highest level of respiratory protection with a lower level of skin protection.
  • Level C consists of an APR and nonencapsulated chemical-resistant clothing, gloves, and boots. Level C personal protective equipment provides the same level of skin protection as level B, with a lower level of respiratory protection. Level C PPE is used when the type of airborne exposure is known to be guarded against adequately by an APR.
  • Level D consists of standard work clothes without a respirator. In hospitals, level D consists of surgical gown, mask, and latex gloves (universal precautions). Level D provides no respiratory protection and only minimal skin protection.

Military Personal Protective Equipment

Military personal protective equipment also has been graded into levels, which are known as mission-oriented protective postures (MOPP). Seven levels of MOPP have been defined, ranging from MOPP ready (prepared to use MOPP gear within 2 hours) to MOPP 4 (maximum protection in protective respiratory mask and battledress overgarments). The higher the level of MOPP, the greater is the level of protection (and greater is the negative impact on individual performance).

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Personal protective equipment (PPE) refers to the respiratory equipment, garments, and barrier materials used to protect rescuers and medical personnel from exposure to biological, chemical, and radioactive hazards.

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