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UER Forum > UE Encyclopedia > Respirator (Viewed 12767 times)
Entry: Respirator
originally posted by mike-o

[last edit 4/5/2007 1:20 PM by Deuterium - edited 12 times]

Respirators are masks that use filters to clean the air before it is breathed.

Don't confuse respirators with standard dust masks, the kind that looks like bra cups. True respirators have a rubber boot to form a good seal with your face and check valves to positively isolate exhale and inhale path.

Respirators with P100 rated particulate filters are recommended if you're going to a location that contains a significant amount of nuisance dust, rat urine laced dust, aerosols,orasbestos. P100 filters hold indefinitely and you can use them until they get dirty, wet, or becomes noticeably harder to breath in. Since N95 is ineffective against asbestos, you should insist on P100.

If your location contains organic vapors,acid gases, mercury vapor among other things, you need some activated carbon cartridges designed for the type of contaminant. Since it's uneconomical to stock on each type, I would get a set of Multi-vapor/Multi gas type. THESE HAVE A VERY LIMITED LIFE ONCE OPENED They have expiration dates and once opened, they should be stored in sealed bags, like ZipLoc. After a few months, they should be considered ineffective. Higher the contaminant exposure, the sooner the cartridges will saturate. Read the enclosed manual. If you think you spent the useful life, throw them out and consider these one or two time use items.

A basic respirator I recommend is the 3M combo kit from Airgas store, part #
3MR6x91, which includues the mask and a pair of P100 filters. for ~$20.
x, 1=small, 2=medium, 3=large.

Your local store should have plenty in stock, but if they don't have them add to the order list on their next shipment and you should be able to get free shipping to store.

This combo is adequate for most UE locations, but if you must have protection against a small amount of toxic gases, you will need to install a pair of 3MR60926(Airgas part #, multi-gas, multi-vapor with P100 combo cartridge). The chemical gas filter becomes inactive in a few months after opening or a few uses(depending on exposure level), so don't use them unless you're fairly certain you have to. These are expensive. ~$20 pair.

Filters are given a NIOSH rating based on two factors: their effectiveness against oil-based hazards, and their efficiency. The rating consists of a letter followed by a number. These break down as follows:

"N-" - Not resistant to oils.
"R-" - Resistant to oils.
"P-" - oil-Proof.
"-95" - Able to filter out 95% of dangerous substances.
"-99" - Able to filter out 99% of dangerous substances.
"-100" - Able to filter out 99.97% of dangerous substances.

Therefore, N95 filters provide the least protection among the NIOSH-approved respirators, and P100 filters provide the greatest protection.

It is of paramount importance that you know the capabilities and limitations of your respirator. No respirator creates oxygen; even the best filter will not cut it if there is less than 19.6% oxygen in the environment. No respirator will protect you against hydrogen sulfide - though the better ones will give you a longer "grace period" in which to escape. A filter which has been used against mercury loses its effectiveness against chlorine, and vice versa. For most situations, it is recommended that you carry a P100 with cartridges that are effective against, at the very least, organic vapors, aerosols, asbestos, and oils.

PLy's Addition: Sizing
Respirators are no good if they dont fit (duh). According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Adm.) standards workers need to be fit tested for these before they actualy use them. There are the three basic sizes of Small, Medium, and Large. To test on out, first put it on (duh again). Put your hand over the cartridges (two cylyndrical or ovular filters) and try to breathe in. If the mask fits securly on your face, you shouldn't be able to breath at all. Next is to try breathing out. Put your hand over the black vent in the bottom middle and try to breathe out. You shouldn't be able to push any air out. If you can breathe in or out at all, its not fitting right. It may seem obvious, but it does no good if the bad air will get in due to an ill fitted mask.


See also:
N95 mask
P100 mask
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