Xinjian "Kevin" He, assistant professor of industrial and management systems engineering at West Virginia University, has received a grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to characterize breathing flow in healthcare workers using respiratory protection.
No national standards currently exist regarding the minimum required operational flow when powered air-purify respirators are used by healthcare workers. He hopes to change that.
"Recent major outbreaks of SARS, H1N1 and Ebola have put significant attention on choosing optimal respiratory protection for healthcare workers," said He. "Healthcare workers are often exposed to viruses that can lead to infectious diseases during the performance of their duties. We need to explore what can be done to minimize their risk while on the job."
He will collect data on the inhalation flow rates and type of work being done by 15 healthcare workers at Mon General Hospital in Morgantown over the next year. From that data, He will characterize breathing flows produced by healthcare workers who perform routine tasks such as moving, lifting and turning patients.
"The results from this study will help improve the overall effectiveness of respiratory protection, ensuring that our healthcare workers can work to their highest ability while still remaining healthy and safe," said He.
He has received previous accolades for his research on respiratory protection, most notably the 2014 John M. White Award from the American Industrial Hygiene Association, of which he is a member. He is also a member of the International Society for Respiratory Protection, the American Association for Aerosol Research and the American Society of Safety Engineers.