Dust Masks

Simple, white face masks are growing in popularity

Dust Mask In, out, in, out ... breathing may sound simple enough, but it could be trickier than you think.

Dust masks, also known as respirators, are one of those safety items considered to be so commonplace that they aren't always given a lot of thought – when, in fact, dust masks are an important piece of safety equipment.

Despite that, the health or survival of your workers could depend on knowing the difference between the various types and styles of dust masks.

There are two basic types of dust masks - the white, gauze particulate mask used for dust, and the canister-type mask that has replaceable filters.

In light of such high-profile cases of dangers such as SARS and avian flu, the simple white face mask - also known as a "nuisance" mask - has been gaining in popularity. Aside from protection from viruses, the nuisance mask is also used for applications as simple as sweeping the floor or cutting wood.

The basic white dust mask has changed dramatically in the past decade; it's now available in various sizes, materials and with accessories. A number of test kits can prove whether or not this component of your personal protective equipment is functioning properly or not.

Canister-type full face mask

Dust masks are available for almost every industry. However, if your application is too demanding for a dust mask, you should consider using full-face masks with proper canister filtration, or you may need to select a gas mask.

Adjustable nose clips, exhaust valves and a choice of two or four straps are the basic features of full-face masks. Some options are also available, such as electro statically-charged fibers to help the particulates stick to the mask, or a multi-panel design to give the wearer more comfort in lengthy situations.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established three different categories for particulate type respirators. They are N, R, and P. Each type of dust mask has three efficiency levels. P (oil-proof) and R (oil-resistant) types of dust masks can be used in environments with oil mist, but R types can only be used for one work shift. After that, a new mask should be used. N type is not suitable for oil mists.

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