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.
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 include:
Welding and torch cutting
Drilling and grinding
Smelting and furnace work
Painting and plating
Spraying and cleaning
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 include:
Cleaning with solvents
Heating certain liquids
Food processing and ripening
Using gas-powered equipment indoors without proper ventilation
When oxygen levels drop below 19.5%, your life is at risk. Confined areas, areas with certain gases, or areas where there are fires can cause an IDLH situation. Some of the tasks that may lead to a life-threatening oxygen deficiency include:
Tank cleaning or maintenance
Working in manholes
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