Respiratory Masks Buying Guide by
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Respiratory Masks Buying Guide

What are Respirators?

Respirators are a kind of face masks designed to protect a wearer from inhaling fumes, vapours, gases and particulate matter like dust and airborne particles. This device can prevent inhaling of contaminants in the air by using cartridges, filters, or canisters.

If you are exposed to potentially dangerous chemicals like lead or atmosphere which may contain noxious gases or do daily tasks like sanding, carpentering, etc. then a respirator mask will help you breathe contamination free air.

There are many types of respirators and choosing the correct one is essential for your safety. Let's see how a respirator works.

How does a Respirator Work?

Respirators protect the user in two basic ways -

First type of respirators work by removing contaminants from the air. Known as Particulate Respirators, they include filters that filter out airborne particles.

Other respirators protect by supplying clean breathable air from another source. These respirators use compressed air from a remote source, and self-contained breathing apparatus that include their own air supply.

Let’s know about different types of respirators to understand this better.

What are Different Types of Respirators

While selecting a face mask, you need to understand your requirement and what kind of mask you want to use. There are basically two types of respiratory masks: Disposable Respirators and Reusable respirators. Lets understand them in detail:

Particulate Respirators Or Disposable Respirators

These respirators are designed to remove particles such as mist or dust from the air. These face masks are usually inexpensive and lightweight. Some of them have a layer of carbon to remove nuisance odors. However, these masks do not protect the wearer from dangerous vapors or gases.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NOSH) has released a testing certification for particulate respirators to create a standard through which respirators can be classified.

Particulate respirators are classified with a letter or numbers. For example N95

  • N: The respirator is not resistant to oil
  • R: The respirator is not resistant to oil
  • P: The respirator is strongly resistant to oil

The numbers indicate the effectiveness of removing particles. A higher number indicates greater effectiveness in removing particles during testing.

  • 95: It can remove at least 95% of the particles
  • 99: It can remove at least 99% of the particles
  • 100: It can remove at least 99.97% of the particles
Half Face Masks

N Series Respirators (N95, N99 & N100)

These respirators are not oil-resistant and therefore provide protection against solid and liquid aerosol particulates that don’t contain oil. These respirators are best suitable to provide protection against dust particles related to coal, iron ore, flour, metal, wood, pollen and non-oil based liquids.

Out of these, N95 masks are commonly used. This mask can be used as long as it is not damaged or doesn’t cause any breathing problems.

While choosing this type of mask, you should take care of a few things -

  • 95: In case you are allergic to latex, look for a mask that says it is hypoallergenic.
  • 99: While wearing the mask make sure it has a gentle strap.
N95 Masks

R-Series Respirators (R95)

Unlike N series, R series respiratory masks are oil resistant and provide protection against both solid and liquid particulates that contain oil. However, these masks only have 8 hours of service life. R-series respirators are the least types of respirators used.

P-Series Respirators (P95 & P100)

These respirators are similar to R-series as they provide protection against both oil based solid and liquid particulates. However, as defined by NIOSH, the service life of these respirators is around 30 days or 40 hours.

Reusable Respirators:

Reusable Respirators are suitable for the people who are exposed to multiple elements. These masks have the capability to protect the wearer from more than just one particulate matter. There are two types of reusable Respirators.

Full Face Masks

Half Face Respirator

This respirator is a bit wider than N95, and can be used for additional protection of the cheeks. It has two filter cartridges that supply fresh air so it will not feel warm inside and will not cause additional perspiration. Half-face respirators are usually of a standard size and are designed to fit the majority of people. The high-quality half-face respirators have filter cartridges that do not abstract your view. Make sure that the cartridges should be low-profile ones.

Full Face Masks

Full Face Respirator

As the name implies, these respirators offer full-face protection which is very important if you are working with harmful elements that could impair your vision. If you are using these types of respirators, you do not need any extra safety goggles, as they are already in-built. These respirators can usually be divided into two types: Mechanical and Electrical.

Mechanical - Mechanical respirators are the ones that help patients in breathing when they have difficulty in breathing. It helps patients to get adequate oxygen and clears carbon dioxide.

Electrical - The electrical ones are also known as supplied-air respirators and are suited for jobs in environments with dangerous chemicals.

The latter are also called supplied air respirators and are mostly used by professionals engaged in industries such as oil & gas and petrochemicals. However, keep one thing in mind. Inadequate sealing of the mask’s respiratory nose cup may cause lens fogging. Therefore, you will need to ensure that the model which you buy does not have such an issue.

Surgical Masks

Gas or Vapor Respirators

These respirators come in the form of cartridges attached to a reusable partial or full-face mask. Each cartridge is designed to remove specific gases or vapors. Gas or vapor cartridges do not provide protection from particles. Cartridges are color-coded to indicate the type of hazards they filter.

  • Black: It filters organic vapor
  • White: It filters acid gases
  • Yellow: It filters organic gases
  • Pink: It filters ammonia gas

You can clean and reuse the gas or vapor respirator. However, they don’t last forever so you need to check them for wear or damage before and after using them. Store the cartridges properly and do not use them after the expiration date.

Surgical Masks

Supplied Air Respirators

Also known as SAR, the respirators are comprised of a facepiece, which are connected via an air supply hose to a source of breathing air. The air supply could be either low pressure or high pressure. Low pressure is maintained by an ambient pump or an air compressor designed specifically for respiratory protection applications. High pressure is provided with either a cylinder or cascaded cylinders of breathing air.

When Do You Need a Respirator?

You would need a respirator:

  • If you have to deal with people on airborne precautions isolation
  • If you are exposed to airborne germs
  • If you work at a place where you are exposed to dangerous fumes or particulate like fire-fighting sites
  • Other jobs include sanding, painting, grinding, cutting, insulating and similar
  • If you work in labs and chemical industries

Understand What Respirator You Need to Wear

Choosing the right respirator starts with the label. The one that has a pesticide label will typically require one of the two main types of respirators.

Chemical cartridges and canisters - Choosing the right respirator starts with the label. The one that has a pesticide label will typically require one of the two main types of respirators.

Filtering Respirator - This respirator removes solids and liquids suspension in air. You can get the filtering respirator as per your work location.

How to Choose the Right Respirator for You?

There are different types of respirators available in the market. However, it is very important to choose one which suits your requirements. Below is a small guide that can help you choose the right mask for you:

Surgical Masks

Make Sure that the Respirator is a Perfect Fit

No matter in which industry you are, if you have to wear respirators it is very important to choose the right respirator. If your respirator is not of the right size then it won’t provide adequate protection. Here are a few tips to choose a right-sized respirator so you get the maximum amount of protection.

  • While buying a respirator check that the respirator covers both your nose and mouth when positioned properly.
  • Ensure that you have a secure fit. A loose-fitting respirator that moves around your face won’t provide complete protection.
  • The wise decision would be to consider an adjustable respirator. Simple adjustments can provide more comfort and give an effective fit.

Check if the Respirator is Comfortable to Wear

While choosing any PPE, comfort is a very high priority. The mask should fit your face like a shoe fits your feet.

If the masks are of single size then it should be adjustable through an elastic or other means. On the other hand, half-face respirators and full-face respirators are often available in three sizes. S, M, and L that correspond to small, medium, and large. The disposable masks are lightweight so that you feel comfortable and almost forget that you are wearing one. The half-face respirators are also designed in a way so that you don’t feel heavy while wearing these respirators. The materials used are often hypoallergenic, this ensures that you are safe even from your safety equipment.

How do I put on my respirator?

  • Open the respirator by pushing slightly on both sides
  • Shape the nose-bridge
  • Place the respirator under the chin with the chin-flap fully open. Holding the respirator against the face, place the lower head-strap around the neck below the ears and the top head-strap above the ears
  • Mold the nose area to the shape of the face by shaping the nose-bridge from the top to the bottom
  • Fit-check the face-seal as follows: Place both hands over the respirator without disturbing its position, exhale Sharply, and if you detect air-leaks, re-adjust the respirator, if re-adjustment Does not fix the air leak, ask the trainer for a different size of respirator.
Surgical Masks

Respirator Safety Tips

Notice Smells: if you notice any smell, it is best advised to change the filter of the mask. Also, if you have irritated throat, nose or lungs, do change it immediately

Breathe Easy: if you find hard to breathe, change your respirator, as it may be clogged

Keep Dry: Many respirators, especially disposable ones, become ineffective if they get wet.

Follow Instructions: Replace filters as instructed on the package.

Don’t Reuse: Disposable respirators aren’t meant to be used more than once.

Throw Away if Broken: Discard any respirator or filter if it is dirty or damaged. Replace gas masks if rubber seals are damaged

Follow Instructions: Replace filters as instructed on the package.

Some Considerations While Using Respirators

  • Any respirator that is labeled with NIOSH is certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, but only for specific hazards.
  • The air-purifying respirators require a tight seal against your face so that it can be effective enough.
  • These purifiers must be the right size and there must be nothing such as facial hair, sideburns, or piercings that prevents them from sealing against your face.
  • Some respirators are labeled for homeowner or DIY use and some are labeled for the workplace or occupational use.
  • The valves’ respirators allow easier exhalation and reduce heat buildup, making the respirator more comfortable. They also help in keeping eyewear from fogging up.

What are the Leading Brands of Respirators?

Some of the most popular brands of respirators are 3M, Venus, and Globus in India. 3M respirators are widely used in industrial settings as these are anti-pollutant in nature and have an ability to filtrate dust. These respirators come with a metallic fit that ensures good and perfect fitting. These respirators are lightweight and therefore can be worn for a long time without any discomfort. Venus N95 Masks come with double adjustable elastic and cause no leakage. These respirators have a snug fit. It can easily fit different face shapes and are skin-friendly and have high durability.

Globus masks are widely used in various industries such as metallurgy, real estate and come with an activated carbon layer. These respirators are generally worn by using a self-tightening clip. If you are exposed to dust particles on a regular basis then you can choose these Globus respirators.

At Moglix, you can get these all from the top brands at the best and affordable prices.