Personal gas monitors are life-saving instruments that must be worn in your breathing zone to be effective.
OSHA defines the breathing zone as “a hemisphere forward of the shoulders within a radius of approximately 6-9 inches,” so a collar, lapel or outside breast pocket is usually a good option. This location also keeps the monitor visible so you can see alerts if your hearing is impaired while working in a loud environment.
Unfortunately, wearing a gas detector within 6-9 inches from your nose and mouth means that whatever dirt, grime or bacteria your monitor has picked up is now in your breathing zone.
If you need to clean your personal gas monitor, your first instinct might be to grab a disinfecting wipe, like you would for any other surface. This is a bad idea.
Why not to use regular disinfectants
The precision sensors in your monitor are highly sensitive to many different chemicals, including alcohol and other disinfectants, so using them could prevent your monitor from alerting you to gas hazards as intended. Additionally, alcohol-based cleaners recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will cause monitors with a lower explosive limit (LEL) sensor to go into alarm. If you zero the monitor too soon, the monitor will read falsely low, potentially putting you in unsafe conditions.
The rubber, plastics and barriers in your monitor can also absorb various disinfectant chemicals. This is problematic because these are some of the same chemicals you may monitor. This effect does not last long, but the length of time you need to wait before zeroing varies, so the approach leaves plenty of room for error.
Read more: How to clean a gas detector