When it comes to health and safety in the workplace, respiratory protection cannot be overlooked. Some industries require working with a variety of potentially harmful substances like gases, chemicals, or dust that can cause illness or injury if they're breathed into the lungs.
Each type of respiratory protection offers a specific level of coverage for employees. The type you choose will mostly depend on your specific industry along with any regulations and other requirements.
Face masks can help to filter dangerous air particles from the air before you breathe them in. They come in several designs including quarter masks, half-mask respirators, and full-face respirators that offer protection for the entire face.
A disposable dust mask can keep you safe from annoying particulates and dust like drywall and concrete dust. A quarter mask typically includes a cartridge or a cloth filter, and it fits from the top of the nose to the top of the chin. A half-mask respirator fits from underneath the chin to above the nose.
With a half-mask respirator, one or two cartridges are used to help filter the air, and they can be thrown away once they're worn out. You can use approved cartridges to protect you from things like organic vapors, dust, pesticides, fumes, ammonia, acid gases, and a combination of some or all of these items.
With a full-face mask, you'll get twin cartridges or chin or back-mounted air canisters. These canisters are specifically designed for various contaminates, so make sure you use the correct canister for the material you're working with. When you use respiratory protection, it can keep your lungs free and clear of airborne particulates and contaminants.
For more extreme environments, you may need to use supplied air for an acceptable level of respiratory protection. This form of PPE pumps clean oxygen into a special respirator to ensure that you're only breathing in completely clean, filtered air. A powered respirator is usually required in a hazmat situation or other environment where contaminants can cause extreme illness or injury.