Does the substance irritate your skin or eyes?
you may choose to wear a full-face respirator
you can use a half-mask respirator
Is the hazard Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH) or a lack of oxygen?
(In IDLH atmospheres the concentrations are high enough or the substance is dangerous enough that exposure could kill you.)
If YES, you should avoid entering the area whenever possible. If you must enter, you will need a respirator that supplies breathable air, such as a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) unit, which consists of a portable tank of air; or a supplied air system (with an emergency escape bottle), which supplies air via a pump or an air compressor. (You should also monitor the air to determine the level of contaminants present.)
What is the difference between a particulate filter and a chemical cartridge?
Particulate respirators, filters and pre-filters: trap solid and liquid particles such as dusts, mists and fumes. They can be found in the form of a disposable respirator, or a “pre-filter,” which can be used in conjunction with a chemical cartridge on a half mask or full face respirator. The filters should be changed according to the manufacturer's instructions or when you experience excessive breathing resistance.
Chemical cartridges: (Gas and/or Vapor-removing Cartridge-type Respirators) are filled with specially treated activated carbon which will absorb certain gases and/or vapors. You should change the cartridges when you taste or smell a substance, or your eyes, throat, or respiratory system become irritated. It's best to schedule a cartridge “change-out” before you notice that you are being exposed to the contaminant.
What are pre-filters and when should you use them?
are used with cartridges. While the cartridges absorb the gas or vapor, the pre-filters trap the dust and mist particulates. Pre-filters work well for activities like pesticide and paint spraying because they trap the liquid particles.
How do I choose a particulate (dust/mist/fume) respirator, filter, or pre-filter?
To choose the appropriate respirator, you will need to review the following 3 questions:
1) Which respirator do I choose if I'm working around dusts, mists, fumes, or molds?
You can wear an N95
in almost any dust situation. Exceptions: If you are welding a highly toxic dust that requires a HEPA (high efficiency) respirator, you should wear an N100
or a P100
. Examples of highly toxic dust are asbestos, lead, and cadmium. OSHA also has certain substances that it has always required a HEPA respirator for, such as asbestos and lead.
2) What does 95 and 100 refer to in the N95 and P100 designations for particulate respirators?
The numbers refer to the efficiency of the filter. The 95% filters are used for most applications and the nearly 100% efficient filters are used in place of the old HEPA filters for the more toxic particulate situations.
3) Are you spraying a chemical?
If YES, you will need to use a pre-filter in conjunction with your chemical cartridge. Is the chemical oil-based? Note: If you are unsure which particulate filter to choose, the P100 offers the highest level of protection against both oils and non-oils.
If NO, you can use a non-oil pre-filter, such as N95.
If YES, you must use an “Oil Proof or Oil Resistant” pre-filter, such as a P100. The R, P, and HE filters can be used for aerosolized oil-based chemicals and pesticides. R means “Resistant to Oil” and P stands for “Oil Proof.” The R filters last up to eight hours when used with oil; the P filters may last longer – follow the manufacturer's recommendations. N filters are “Not Resistant” to oil. If your chemical or pesticide does not contain oil, you may use an N, R, P, or HE filter.
||Not to be used with oil.
||R means “resistant to oils.” Can be used for eight hours with chemicals and pesticides that contain oil.
||P means “oil proof.” Can be used with oil and non-oil hazards; may be able to use longer than eight hours.
||High Efficiency, the filter used on a PAPR. (Can be used with oils.) Check with manufacturer's instructions for time restrictions; or change when you notice a decrease in airflow.
How do I know which size respirator I should wear?
Performing a fit test is the best way to determine proper fit. As a general guideline for ordering, 80% of the population wears a size medium. If you have very small or large facial features you may need to order a size smaller or larger.
Am I able to wear glasses with a full face respirator?
In order to wear your prescription with a full face respirator you need to purchase the mask's spectacle kit separately. A spectacle kit is essentially an empty eyeglass frame that you take to an optometrist and have your prescription lens cut to fit. The spectacle kit attaches to the inside of the mask which then allows you to wear your eyeglass prescription with a full face respirator.
Can I use a respirator if I have a beard?
No, because a beard does not allow a mask to form a good seal around the face. An alternative would be a Powered Air Purifying Respirator
(PAPR) which is a loose fitting facepiece that filters and provides a fresh supply of air using a blower.
What types of respirators and cartridges are available?
Choosing the right respirator is crucial to your health and safety. Use the easy guide below to learn more about the types of respirators available. If you are not sure which respirator you need, call us at 1-800-443-7937 and ask for our Product Support Department.
Half-Mask, Particulate, Disposable Respirators
NIOSH prefix TC-21C/TC-84A.
Use for dust, pollen, mists, welding fumes and certain pesticides applied in solid form. Range: 10 x PEL*
Dual Cartridge, Half-Mask Reusable Respirator
NIOSH prefix TC-23C or TC-21C/TC-84A.
Cartridges/filters can be changed to match contaminant. Can be used for protection against pesticides, anhydrous ammonia, acid gases, dust or welding fumes. Range: 10 x PEL*
Full-Face Dual Cartridge, Reusable Respirator
NIOSH prefix TC-23C or TC-21C/TC-84A.
Protects face, eyes, nose and respiratory system from irritants and contaminants. Full-face is more protective than a half-mask. Range: 50 x PEL*
10xPEL, 50xPEL, etc., refer to the assigned protection factors (APF) of the respirators. A respirator with an APF of 10 (10xPEL) that is properly selected, fitted and worn will protect the employee from exposure levels up to 10 times the permissible exposure level (PEL), which is the exposure level deemed to be dangerous by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).