October 31, 2023

IAQ Concerns for Prosthetics Manufacturing

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IAQ Concerns for Prosthetics Manufacturing

How Air Purification Can Help Keep Workers Safe

War wounds, auto accidents, and occupational injuries are often the first things people think of as reasons for amputations. But those are not the only causes: many have lost a limb or body part as a consequence of vascular disease such as diabetes or blood clots, aggressive infection, or cancer treatment. The need for a prosthesis may also arise following reconstructive surgery, such as a mastectomy.

The foremost goal of prosthetics is to improve the quality of life for a person after loss. This can include replacing the function of the patient’s absent limb or body part, improving their appearance, or providing comfort.  Prostheses manufacturing improves lives.

Unfortunately, workers involved in this process are at risk of illness if indoor air quality measures are not used during production.

Young female technician holding prosthetic leg checking and working in laboratory, Specialist with high tech technology at prosthetics manufacturing, New artificial limb production for disabled people

Prosthetics Defined

Prosthetics is the medical specialty of creating artificial body parts. Prosthesis is the term for a synthetic substitute for a missing body part which is absent due to congenital defect or lost due to trauma or disease. What most often comes to mind when one hears “prosthetics” are limbs – arms and legs – but many parts of the body, inside and out, can be replaced with fabricated substitutes. Some, like eyes, jawbones, and hips, are implanted to be permanent. So, too, are organs such as heart valves. Some manufactured prostheses are to be removable, like lower legs, hands, and feet.

Due to the advancements in science and technology, artificial implants and prosthetics can replace up to 50% of the human body, according to experts (1). The manufacturing of artificial body parts has come a long way over the last century. Today, prosthetics can look and act like the real thing.

Prosthetics Manufacturing

Whether it be an artificial eye, thumb, nose, or even an artery, there is a wide variety of materials used in its manufacturing. Plastics play a role, as do metals, epoxies, adhesives, resins, and other synthetic substances. The process of molding, setting, gluing, painting, and finishing prosthetic products is a scientific marvel. But it doesn’t come without potential health risks for those creating the product.

Air Quality Issues

It is important for those who work in prosthetics labs and studios to be aware of potential air quality issues.

When working with glues, adhesives, solvents, paints, plastics, or resins, off-gassing can result during production. Sanding and grinding plastics and metals can generate particulates and dust as well. All of these contaminants enter the breathing space of the worker and can cause health complications.

Short-term exposure to these emissions can cause eye burning, nasal irritation, and other unpleasant side effects.

Long-term exposure can lead to respiratory illnesses such as asthma and even chronic disease.

IAQ Solution

Those who manufacture artificial body parts have a low risk of adverse health effects when proper safety measures are in place. This includes routinely using personal protective equipment, such as goggles and facemasks. Proper workspace ventilation is also necessary. For a complete solution, IAQ products must be added to further protect workers from unhealthy indoor air pollution.

At AIRSInc, we supply air filtration products for our prosthetics manufacturing customers. Our Extract-All models SP987-2, SP-400, and BT981-2 are portable, multi-stage filtration systems that effectively capture emissions at their source.

For the safety and peace of mind of you and your workforce, call us today for a free indoor air quality assessment from one of our skilled and experienced environmental specialists.

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