Who knew that the time will come when there will be a compulsion on using the masks and respirators every time you step out of your home? Our generation is experiencing the same due to the pandemic (corona-virus outbreak). It has now become a part of our lifestyle to use the face mask or respirator. Companies are coming up with various patterns, designs and colors for making these masks and respirators more trendy and stylish to attract more customers. But have we ever given a thought on the right application of these masks and respirators? No, right? After analyzing this concern, we serve you with this writing article. It will help you understand the core difference between the dust mask and disposable respirator. Also, you will get to know when and where to use these dust masks and disposable respirators.
A) Dust mask is safety equipment that protects the user from non-toxic nuisance dust that occurs after mowing, sweeping, dusting, etc. It covers the nose, mouth and face of the user properly to avoid any infection or allergies. However, it doesn’t protect the user against hazardous dust, gases and vapors. It has two ear loops to hold the mask across the face and ears. They are only recommended as a precautionary measure to protect the people around the user. The correct dust mask is identified by letters - N, R or P that categorize oil-resistance designation.
- N series filters - It is suitable for atmospheres that are free from aerosolized oil. It can be used for any solid or liquid airborne particles that do not contain oil.
- R series filter - It can be used for removal of any particulates, including oil-based liquid aerosols.
- P series filter - It is designed to block 99.9% of particles 0.3 microns or larger.
B) Disposable respirator is the face-wear that is NIOSH approved and is used to protect the user from various hazardous dust, fumes, vapors, gases. It has a metal nose piece, two straps and a safety designation. Health workers widely use it and those who are exposed to airborne pathogens during their working hours like police, fire, medical, emergency response, etc. It is suggested for single-use purpose and provides a high degree of efficiency when worn correctly. The N95 respirator is one of the good examples of disposable respirators.
*N95 Respirators is a filtering face-piece. It offers more protection against airborne particles than any dust or surgical masks as it has a tight-fitting. Also, it can filter both small and large particles along with aerosols. It can remove about 95% of airborne particles.
- Valved v/s Non-valved respirators:
The valved respirators help to exhale easier and make it comfortable to wear. There is less moisture built up. But doesn’t filter the exhalation, only the inhale. It is one-way protection that makes it risky for the user in the situation of Covid-19. Thus, it is not recommended to use the non-valved respirators by medical staff or in hospitals.
Whereas, the non-valved respirators are known for providing 2-way protection by filtering both inflow and outflow of air.
Important factors to identify the difference:
- Sealing Factor
Dust mask - It fits loosely over the face and does not typically include the filter.
Disposable respirator - It fits tightly to the face and creates a seal between the face and respirator to help ensure that the air is drawn through the filter.
- Type of contamination
Dust Mask - It helps prevent dust generated after sweeping, dusting and mowing from entering the user’s mouth and nose.
Disposable respirator - It reduces the user’s exposure to certain airborne particles, including those <100 that can be inhaled through the nose and mouth.
- Place to use
Dust Mask - Need to wear the mask near the area where there are the chances of dust present in the surrounding like a construction site, roadway cleaning or windy outdoor areas.
Disposable Respirator - It must be applied and taken off only in the clean area. Also, it should be worn all the time until the user is present in the contaminated area.
Dust Mask - It is cleared for the sale by the Food And Drug Administration. The manufacturer usually conducts the test of the masks.
Disposable respirator - It is certified by the National Institute for Occupation at safety and health. The test is required to perform under strict norms and conditions before approval is granted.
You can select the right type of mask and respirator with the help of the Health and Safety team in your organization. Also, the good fit testing session needs to be conducted for focusing on extra care and proper selection of respirator. It is better to have a tight facial sealing while using masks and respirators. And the user must dispose the mask or respirator when it becomes dirty and damaged for safe breathing.
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