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Did you know that an estimated 5 million workers are required to wear respirators throughout the United States?
And that the proper application of respiratory equipment can prevent approximately 4,000 injuries and illnesses annually as well as 900 deaths from cancer and other chronic diseases.
Exposure to airborne contaminants can cause itchy, watery eyes, irritated skin, headaches, and breathing problems. And those are just the mild symptoms resulting from minimal exposure.
Overexposure can cause brain damage, kidney damage, lung cancer, and liver failure.
Here are the three most common types of respirators - these are the types you will learn about during OSHA 10 safety training.
Disposable dust masks and particulate respirators are not designed to be washed or cleaned. Because of the cloth-like construction, disposable respirator masks should be thrown out if they become wet and/or damaged. It isn’t worth saving the dollar to reuse one of these. Buy these in bulk and change out frequently.
Gas & Vapor Respirators
These half or full-mask respirators are designed specifically to protect the user against harmful gases and vapors, and typically require replaceable respirator cartridges. Selection of the appropriate cartridge depends on which gases or vapors are expected; the most common respirator cartridge is typically an organic vapor cartridge. HOWEVER, these respirators normally do not offer protection from particulates like dust, so for environments containing harmful particulates AND gas and vapors, the user NEEDS a combo respirator. (Gas-Vapor-Respirator)
Combination respirators are designed to provide users with vapor AND particulate protection, with one cartridge. These respirators require the use of either a half or full-face respirator mask. If heavy particulate filtration is required, consider using a standard gas or vapor respirator cartridge along with a pre-filter, rather than a combination cartridge. This configuration commonly used in applications involving spray paint or pesticides.
So the next time you’re working in the shop or paining in the office, remember that using the correct respiratory equipment can prevent injury and death.
Until next time, stay positive, stay safe and remember your safety training!