Choosing the right respirator

4 Step Guide To Choosing The Right Respirator or Dust Mask

Half Face Respirator - Expiration and Warranty Reading 4 Step Guide To Choosing The Right Respirator or Dust Mask 6 minutes Next When would you use a respirator?

Choosing the right respirator is a key when working with home, garden and DIY project as they always involve exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins.

These chemicals and toxins are paint fumes, solvents, dust, and adhesives which can cause severe breathing problem and even lung cancer.

If you are working under these conditions then you must know which respirator or dust mask you must wear so that it can filter out the hazards for which they are designed for.

You must always remember that both respirator and dust mask differ from each other and they both must be used under different circumstances and working environments.

While respirator require different filters and cartridges as they provide protection from harmful gases, vapors, and fumes, at the same time dust masks are designed only for the tasks like dusting and safety from fire smoke which does not include any chemical gases or dust particles.

Steps to Selecting Respirators for Your Workplace

Step 1:- Know your hazard type

Before you start working on any project, you must know whether the environment contains a particulate hazard (particles such as hazardous dusts or fibers), a gas or vapor hazard (such as solvent vapors or chlorine gas), or both types of hazards.

Step 2:- Find out which respirator and filter protection is required

Always check the environment status where you will be using the respirator. Respirator comes with different filters, and Chemical cartridges and these cartridges and filters serves different purpose.

Some provide protection against organic vapors, fumes, smoke, chemicals, while some filters are used to get protection from solid and liquids particles present in the air.

Each of the particulate filters has different ratings and these ratings are provided by NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health).

The ratings tell about how much of the filtering capacity does each filter has. The rating has both a letter and number:

  • N: Not oil proof
  • R: Oil resistant (up to 8 hours)
  • P: Oil proof (beyond 8 hours)
Number: Particulate filters are rated as 95, 97, or 100 and these numbers tell about air filtration % such as 95 rating means that the filter removes 95% of particles from the air.

A filter rated 100 has highest air filtration efficiency.

Step 3:- Determine level of protection needed

The only respirators OSHA allows for use in the workplace are those approved by NIOSH. Each respirator approved by NIOSH has an assigned protection factor (APF), which can range from 10 to 10,000.

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Step 4:- Choose a respirator type

After knowing your required APF, you can select the respirator and filters that you require accordingly. 

What Type Particulate Filter Should I Buy?

Particulate filter selection depends upon the kind of job you are doing. The common rating for disposable dust masks is N95 which will filter 95% of airborne particles and which are not oil based.

The dust mask covers most woodshop dust, allergens, and airborne diseases. For oil based jobs such as painting or spraying you can use P1 and P2 filters.  When you need higher protection then always choose P100 filters as those filters will filter out 100% of both oil based and non oil based air particles.

When choosing a dust mask, consider:

Always choose the masks that give proper sealed protection around the face without any leakage.

If you are choose a disposable mask then do not wear it after using once.

Choose a mask that has exhalation valve so that you can use it for a longer time period of work.

If you are working in the area that has highly toxic particles, choose a non disposable mask or a proper half face respirator.

Chemical cartridge /Gas Mask Respirators

Chemical cartridge respirators contain carbon filtering material that absorbs gases and vapors from the air.

These cartridges are replaceable and you can replace them after several hours of use. Cartridge respirators may be half-mask (covering only your nose and mouth) or full-face (for protection against chemicals that irritate the skin).

Cartridge respirators may be half-mask (covering only your nose and mouth) or full-face (for protection against chemicals that irritate the skin).

What Type Chemical Cartridge Respirator Should I Buy?

When choosing the chemical cartridge respirator, you need to know what toxins you will be facing. Each chemical cartridge serves specific purpose such as organic vapors, ammonia, mercury, or acids.

If you are working with a project that contains only small amount of these chemicals then you can choose a half face respirator and use a multipurpose chemical cartridge or a P100-rated particulate filter.

Guide to Respirators

The following chart will help you decide what kind of respirator you need:

Respirator Safety Tips

  • Notice Smells: After wearing a respirator if you notice smell or taste then you must change the filters. If it’s new then you must check for the leakage and should wear it properly.
  • Keep Dry: Store the filters and the respirator in a dry place as many filters and disposable masks become ineffective if they get wet.
  • Follow Instructions: Always follow the instruction before you wear the mask. You must always check for the leakage before you start your work.
  • Don’t Reuse: Disposable respirators aren’t meant to be used more than once. If you are using a respirator and change the filters after 40 hours of use or when it’s tough breathing through them.
  • Throw Away if Broken: Never use a broken filter, canister or respirator as it may not work efficiently. Purchase the new one if any of the respirator part is broken.

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