Disposable Respirators February 12 2018

Also known as face masks, disposable respirators are examples of personal protective equipment that are made from filter material designed to protect workers from inhaling liquid or airborne particles created during construction, cleaning, grinding, including during surgical or medical procedures, as well as potential contaminants in the immediate environment. According to the National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health (NIOSH), the N95, N99, and N100 disposable respirators are the most ideal, if not the most popular and approved face masks.

As the name would suggest, disposable respirators are not intended to be used more than once, but instead, they should be disposed of safely the minute breathing through the mask becomes difficult or once they are damaged and dirty. Employees, including the public need to wear respirators whenever harmful dust, smokes, mists, fumes, gases, vapors, sprays, or toxic substances are present in the environment or community settings, which may pose a health hazard such as lung impairment, cancer, N1H1 flu, or other respiratory diseases.

The Center for Disease Control also recommends the use of disposable respirators for medical personnel who are in constant contact with patients who have airborne infectious diseases. Employees who are exposed to dangerous vapors or gases while working in chemical manufacturing industries are implored to wear disposable respirators because long-term contact with such toxic chemicals can lead to irreparable health damages and illnesses. While it would be next to impossible to control or prevent exposure from airborne contaminants during various construction, maintenance, and repair operations, exposure to a harmful substance such as asbestos can be minimized by wearing disposable respirators.

The asbestos disease starts with the inhalation of asbestos fibers where most problems such as lung scarring, genetic mutations, and cancer arise after repeated and long-term exposures to the carcinogen. Exposure can occur while living near job sites or contaminated environments, using asbestos-containing products or working in certain occupations which includes roofers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, firefighters, auto mechanics, as well as insulators, and factory workers too.

While anyone can wear a disposable respirator that is certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), however, caution should be exercised, especially for people with pre-existing medical conditions that make breathing difficult. Such conditions include emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, etc. Such people should check with their doctor first before wearing a mask as it is known to make breathing more difficult and patients report experiencing dizziness, nausea, and headaches.

There are some N95 respirators that have exhalation valves that can make breathing easier and help reduce heat build-up when used by such patients or in construction work, these models should, however, not be used in cases where sterile conditions must be maintained such as hospitals. Disposable respirators are designed to cover both the nose and mouth to keep you from breathing in mold, dust or other airborne and harmful substances. Therefore, a mask should have a snug fit and come in complete contact with your skin for it to work effectively.