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Respirator is a device that provides complete protection from hazardous airborne particles such as dusts, fumes, organ vaporous, and gases. These respirators filters out the harmful particles present in the air and then it provides fresh air to breathe.

If these hazardous particles are inhaled then it can cause many types of respiratory diseases such as throat infection, mouth infection, lung infection or even cancer. Regular inhalation of these particles can even lead to death.

Respirators are made with rubber or silicon and come in different shapes and sizes. These respirators are easy to wear and you can comfortably work and focus on your job while wearing them.

There are different types of respirators available and each one is used for different purposes. While some provides protection from dust, and air particles, some are used to protect you from gases and fumes.

Full face masks are also available that are air supplied and you can work wearing them where supply of oxygen is low. Below we will discuss types of respirators.


Types of Respirators

 Generally there are three types of respirators available:-

1. Air purifying respirators (APRs)

2. Supplied-air respirators (SARs)


Air purifying respirator (APRs)


Air purifying respirators are those that use filters/cartridges to remove harmful or hazardous contaminants from air. These respirators are reusable and they filter air particulates like dusts, metal fumes, mists, vapors, gases, etc.

There are some other respirators that are generally called face masks and they only filters dusts, fumes and or air particulates. These masks are not efficient to filter vapors and gases. For vapors and gases you generally need half face/full face respirators.  Respirators that use filters and cartridges are available in two different forms.

 Half-face mask (covering the face from the nose to below the chin)

 Full face piece (covering the face from above the eyes to below the chin)

Half face respirators do not cover your full face and provides only respiratory protection. You need to wear protective eye glasses with them to protect your eyes.

Full face respirators cover your full face protect the eyes and full face from exposure to irritating chemicals.


Supplied-air respirators (SARs)


Supplied air respirators are used where there is low level of oxygen in the working area. These types of respirators supply clean air from a compressed air tank or through an airline.

While wearing these respirators workers do not have to depend upon the air quality of the working environment. Supplied-air respirators may have either tight-fitting or loose-fitting respiratory inlets.


Types of Air purifying respirator (APRs) Explained

Disposable Dust/Particulate Respirators

Disposable Dust/Particulate Respirators

These types of respirators are single use face masks that are designed to protect the workers lungs from nuisance particles as well as certain pneumoconiosis, fibrosis-producing dusts and mists.

They are generally called N95 masks and filters out about 95% of impurities. These masks are lightweight, disposable, and comfortable to wear and are less expensive in the list.

Limitation: -

They are not reusable and should be used only once. These masks do not provide higher level of protection.

Application: -

Disposable masks should be only used where there are low concentrations of dusts, mists, pollen, mist, and animal dust.

Particulate Respirators - N. R. P. Series

Particulate Respirators - N. R. P. Series

Particulate respirators are better than disposable masks. They are classified according to hazard such as "dust mist fume" and provides for three levels of filter efficiency (95%, 99%, and 99.97%). These particulate respirators are further classified in series known as N, R, and P.

They are used by workers including hospital employees needing protection from infectious tuberculosis and also by carpenters, painters, and farmers. These respirators are usually certified by NIOSH.

Particulate respirators that filter out 95% of air particulates are generally classified as N95, R95, and P95.

Respirators that filter our 99% of impurities are classified as N99, R99, and P99.

Particulate respirators that give nearly 100% (99.97%) protection are classified as N100, R100, and P100.

Air Purifying Half Mask Respirators

Air Purifying Half Mask Respirators

Half mask respirators are made of rubber of silicon and provide heavy protection from gases, fumes, dusts, vapors, dust, mold, and other harmful air particles and particulates.

These respirators provide tight seal around the face and they are fitted with cartridges which purify the air as the wearer breathes.  They are reusable and you just have to change the filters only.

Life of these filters is about 40 hours and should not be used more than this time frame. You can also change the filters when it gets tough to breathe through them.

The best part of half face respirators is that you can use different types of cartridges in them. Different types of cartridges are available for different types of air contaminants..


These respirators provide extreme protection to the wearer. They are easy to use and relatively lightweight.

These respirators provide air tight seal around the face and offer good protection from many air contaminants.

Limitations: -

They do not provide protection to your full face and you have to wear extra protection for your eyes.

Also these air purifying respirators cannot be used for all types of air contaminants and are limited by the type and capacity of the filters/cartridges used.

They do not provide protection like full face-piece air purifying respirator. You cannot use them in the environment where the level of oxygen is low or in atmospheres which have high concentrations of contaminants.

Applications:- You can use these respirators for wide variety of respiratory hazards. Different cartridges and filters are available that provide protection against different type of hazard. The most common types of cartridges are:

Organic Vapor Cartridge

Acid Gas/Mist Cartridge

Combination Cartridge

Mercury Cartridge

HEPA Cartridge

Air Purifying Full Face-piece Respirators

Air Purifying Full Face-piece Respirators

Air-purifying full face-piece respirators works on same principal as the half mask respirators works. Full face respirator covers your full face, providing protection to eyes, nose, chin, and mouth.

These respirators are also used with filters/cartridges. These filters/cartridges are same that are used in half face respirators.

Advantages: -

Full face respirators are better than half face mask. These respirators provide better seal and more protection that half mask air purifying respirators.

Wearing full face respirator you can easily protect your eyes and face from irritating vapors, mists, and splashed chemicals.

Limitation: -

Full face respirators are much heavier than half face respirators. They are less comfortable to wear as compared to half face mask.

They are also limited to certain type of air contaminants and are limited by the type and capacity of the filters and cartridges used.

You cannot use them in oxygen-deficient atmospheres, or in atmospheres which have high concentrations of contaminants.


These respirators are used for wide variety of job applications where eye and face protection is desirable.

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