What are the Dangers of Over-Using a Disposable Respirator?

Work environments where employees are exposed to air where there may be dust, bacteria or chemicals should always wear a respirator.  Prolonged exposure to noxious gas,chemicals or dusty air can cause damage to your lungs.  Jobs where disposable respirator’s are needed include construction sites, hospital and healthcare facilities, and industrial painting and manufacturing. While disposable respirators cannot filter out everything, a properly working and rated one can keep many harmful airborne pollutants out of your lungs.  However, in order to be effective, they should be replaced often.

Disposable respirators are like dust masks but with added features that keep out not only solid particulate but also harmful gasses and fumes.  In order to work correctly, the filtering material of the disposable respirator needs to be fairly clean.  Once too much particulate or gas clogs the material, it will no longer filter properly and may allow harmful gasses to pass through to the employee, who will breathe them in.  Some chemicals do not have a strong smell, but may still be very harmful and dangerous.  Thus, employees must ensure that they replace their disposable respirator’s as often as is necessary to properly protect themselves.
3M 8210 Disposable Respirator
Another important consideration in regards to the proper use of disposable respirator’s is to ensure that they form a cohesive seal on the the face of the wearer.  Employees should be clean shaven, because hair can cause the seal to be broken, and allow harmful fumes to be breathed in by the wearer.  You should be able to create a tight seal by testing it.  Simply breathe in while holding the outside of the respirator with your hands.  As you breathe in, the respirator should collapse slightly.  If air leaks in between the face and the faceseal of the respirator, adjust it or replace it with a size that fits.  The respirator will not protect you if it does not fit properly.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or the NIOSH, is the governmental body who provides regulations regarding which respirators are required for each job.  Additional requirements by be made by each particular job, so employees should become familiar with both the NIOSH standards and their company standards in regards to wearing and disposing of their respirators. In general, disposable respirators are meant to be used once.  They should be replaced often, especially when employees are working in an area with dangerous fumes. In addition, disposable respirators should never be shared amongst employees.

Protecting your lungs is incredibly important.  Lung damage can be painful and debilitating, and should be avoided at all cost.  Switch out your disposable respirator often to ensure that it will always be working properly.  Never switch out a respirator in your work area.  Instead, move to a fume free area where a respirator is not needed, remove the old one and put on the new one before returning to work.  Be sure and properly test it to make sure it fits snugly.  With proper use and care, a disposable respirator will keep your lungs healthy and safe.

3 thoughts on “What are the Dangers of Over-Using a Disposable Respirator?

  1. Amazing, I found your site on google poking around for something completely unrelated- now I’m gonna need to go the old posts. Good bye free time today, but this was a really spectacular find.

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